October 17, 2021

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Singularly Lovely Education

Heroes work, train at Citrus College’s Health Sciences Department

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

By Edward C. Ortell, J.D., Citrus College Governing Board Member

The importance of our nation’s health care workers has never been more clear. Throughout the past year, their heroic actions mitigating a global pandemic have emphasized the value of this highly skilled profession. While the pandemic has made it difficult for some aspiring health care workers to receive their required training, the Citrus College Health Sciences Department has continued to successfully prepare students for careers in this vital industry.

The college currently offers several health sciences career pathways. These include registered nursing (RN), certified nurse assistant (CNA), licensed vocational nursing (LVN), registered dental assisting (RDA) and emergency medical technician (EMT). Each pathway is designed to provide students with a sound education, as well as the resources to help them reach their goals. A key element of each program is the hands-on training that takes place in the college’s state-of-the-art labs.

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When COVID-19 forced Citrus College to transition to a remote environment in March 2020, all curriculum migrated online. This sudden change was difficult for the entire college, but it was especially challenging for those students, faculty and staff in programs involving laboratory work. All in-person lab sections had to be modified so that students could complete them from home.

Several months later, local health officials and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office gave the green light for in-person classes connected to specific essential workforce sectors to resume. For Citrus College, this meant students in the RN, CNA, LVN and RDA programs were among those who could return to campus to complete their laboratory requirements. Faculty, staff and administrators created plans that facilitated the August 2020 return according to health and safety guidelines.

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Since returning to campus, the health sciences department has adjusted to a new normal. Students must now check in at designated parking lot entrances before proceeding to their classes. Once on campus, social distancing and contact tracing protocols are in place. In addition, students who need to meet patient care requirements are continuing their clinical work at off-campus sites.

The hard work invested into Citrus College’s remote instruction and return-to-campus plans has made a difference. At the end of the fall 2020 semester, 29 students graduated from the RN program, 37 graduated from the CNA program, 22 graduated from the LVN program and 23 graduated from the RDA program. At the same time, licensure rates remain impressive.

As we approach the end of the spring 2021 semester, Citrus College’s Health Sciences Department is thriving. There are currently 50 students enrolled in RN classes, with 31 on track to graduate this June. Additionally, there are 14 students enrolled in CNA classes, 46 enrolled in LVN classes, 28 enrolled in RDA classes and 41 enrolled in EMT classes.

As the greater Duarte area’s representative on the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, I am incredibly proud of our health sciences students’ perseverance. Thanks to the hard work of the entire college community, Citrus College has continued to produce health care professionals and meet regional needs.

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