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Pa. program aims to address shortage of LPNs

May 03, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The flood of births in the years after World War II, aka the baby boom, will become a flood of senior citizens in the years ahead, taxing a health-care system that already is short of medical professionals.

Pennsylvania has one of the oldest populations in the United States -- the median age of 39.3 years ranks fifth, according to StateMaster.com -- and the older it gets, the more nursing care the population will require.

The shortage of licensed practical nurses will be an estimated 4,000 in less than two years, said Annette Sanders, president of the Institute for Caregiver Education.

The nonprofit institute is addressing the shortage in this area with a part-time program designed for working people, Sanders said. The first class for 36 students is scheduled to start July 8, she said.

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Classes, labs and clinical sessions for the two-year program will be held Tuesdays and Wednesdays, said Myrna Eshleman, director of the practical nursing program. The students will be broken up into four groups, she said.

"We're specifically targeting those people who need to continue working while they go to school," Eshleman said.

That will be unlike the practical nursing program at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, which can be completed in a year, but is full time.

The classes initially will be held at the institute's facility in Chambersburg Mall, but ground soon will be broken on a 6,850-square-foot building on Farm Credit Drive in Chambersburg, Sanders said. The building could be completed by this fall, she said.

The application period for the first class still is open, but Sanders said applicants are being interviewed and the number of available slots could be filled.

Much of the demand for LPNs in the area is for long-term care such as nursing homes or personal-care homes, but the training that the students will receive will prepare them as nurses for all different levels of care, including physicians' offices and hospitals, Sanders said.

In their clinical sessions, students will be observing labor and delivery, surgery, pediatrics and other specialized area of health care, Eshleman said. Training will encompass all aspects of care from the beginning of life to the end, Sanders said.

Sanders and Eshleman said the institute has agreements with the Fulton County Medical Center in McConnellsburg, Pa., and other hospitals in the area, as well as nursing homes and physicians' offices for clinical sessions. Those necessary hours are hard to come by as hospitals seek to address their shortages of registered nurses, they said.

The Institute for Caregiver Education has been in Chambersburg for 15 years and has a well-established nursing assistant program, Sanders said. Planning for the part-time LPN program has been ongoing for about two years, with the program being approved in February by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

The institute provides training and professional development for health-care professionals, as well as consulting services in the caregiver field across the nation, institute spokeswoman Allison Lantieri said.

For information about the institute and its LPN program, call 717-263-7766 or go to www.caregivereducation.org. The institute's office hours at Chambersburg Mall are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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