By Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, Guest Columnist
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — Some students possess the maturity level and academic wherewithal to begin studying toward a fruitful career path while still in high school. It is no secret that many earn most of the necessary credits towards a high school diploma by the completion of the junior year of school; thus, requiring the student to attend high school for part of the school day during their senior year. Many students have jobs or extracurricular school activities, such as band or athletics, to help round out the day. However, those not in falling into these categories often ended up with a lot of free time; fortunately policy makers in Mississippi are finding ways to assist these students. With a focus for getting students on a successful career path, Pearl River Community College (PRCC) is expanding the Dual Enrollment Practical Nursing Program. This program was piloted and established at PRCC’s Forrest County Center in Hattiesburg. Now, with funding made available through the Mississippi Community College Board’s Workforce Education Division, students located geographically closer to PRCC’s Poplarville Campus can now participate. The focus of this program is to get students started in a successful career pathway. The Department of Labor (DoL) indicates that the median annual wage for a practical nurse in Mississippi is $35,230. This field is also projected by the DoL to grow at a very good rate of 20% to 28%, indicating there should be many jobs becoming available in the next several years. While attending college while in high school may sound daunting to some students, the benefits are worthwhile. Students will the attend classes on PRCC’s campus, utilize the same classrooms and laboratories, and have access to the same services as their college counterparts from the beginning of the program. Students will attend these classes in the afternoon during their high school senior year. At the end of their freshman year of college, students who complete all course work and assignments will qualify for taking a licensure exam. This license will qualify the nurse to work in places such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living homes and other places. For some, it is never too early to get started on a successful career path.