Virginia Health Services recently launched a partnership with the Healthcare Apprenticeship Extension Program, and it already has reached a milestone.
The first class of apprentices graduated Thursday on Styron Square at Port Warwick in Newport News. The six grads completed Care Assistant training and will continue their education as Nursing Assistants.
The ceremony on the Square celebrated the completion of multi-week on-the-job training at York Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center.
The graduates will continue their training to culminate with the CNA exam, paid for by the apprenticeship program, to certify them.
Graduates Sabrina Baylor (Valedictorian), Keirah Hall (Salutatorian), Tracy Green, Tina Lee, Niya Owens and Elizabeth Steere and their families braved the chilly weather to celebrate their achievements.
Their instructor, Nora Gillespie, RN, told them, “Lead with your heart. You have the opportunity to touch a life.”
She said she was impressed by the group’s teamwork to get through their skills training and classwork.
“You have heart. You have compassion,” she said. “You’ll need all of it.”
Gillespie also helped Baylor get through her speech when she was overcome with emotion.
“I’m just so proud of everybody,” Baylor said, as the group wiped tears from their eyes.
Certificates were presented by VHS Director of Education Bryanna Rhodes, instructors Ann Armstrong and Gillespie, Process Improvement Manager Cerissa Atkins, and VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin, who gave opening remarks.
The apprentices, their family members, and VHS team members enjoyed light refreshments in the Square following the ceremony.
Several of the apprentices are going to work at other VHS facilities, including Walter Reed and Lancashire Convalescent and Rehabilitation Centers.
“You’re getting good ones,” Gillespie said.
The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program is ongoing throughout the year, with the next class of CAs starting May 3. Learn more and apply on our Careers page.
VHS aims to grow the program to include apprenticeships for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), pharmacy technicians, and housekeeping and culinary positions.