PRINCETON — Princeton Community High School is giving students a chance to prepare themselves before heading to college by providing new courses including a Certified Nursing Assistant certification program through Ivy Tech Community College.

This year's CNA program includes eight juniors and seniors who are learning basic nursing skills including taking blood pressure, taking temperatures, aiding in choking and falling, learning about infection control and other skills.

In March, the students will participate in the clinical portion of the program at RiverOaks Health Campus in Princeton, where they will practice a required 72 skills with patients, including bathing, feeding and transporting.

In order to submit a CNA application to the state, students must record a minimum of 30 classroom hours and 75 lab/clinical hours before taking the Indiana state exam.

Program director Andrea Grillo, who is a registered nurse and professor at Ivy Tech Community College, believes the program is a great opportunity for high school students to explore the careers of nursing and healthcare.

"It's a great stepping stone for young people trying to get into the medical field," Grillo said. "For these high schoolers to be able to have this before they even get out of high school is amazing."

Maria Pressley and Pam Christy, both Ivy Tech professors and registered nurses, are the teachers for the PCHS program.

"The Department of Education of the state of Indiana is pushing toward college and career pathways for high school students to get them accustomed to them before they go to college or into the workforce," PCHS principal Amy Stough explained. "So, we needed to take some of the courses we had and offer more in those areas to put them in pathways."

New courses offered this year include computer science, information technology support, anatomy and physiology, biomedical science, health science education, principles of engineering, principles of marketing and business management and culinary arts.

The school officials will continue to add more new courses next school year.

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