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Accelerated Training Program Puts Gooch in Pipeline to Patient Care Job

June 30, 2011

Ebony Gooch  
Ebony Gooch now works at the BJC HealthCare's
Siteman Cancer Center. (Photo by Wiley Price)

Ebony Gooch grew tired of working in banks, call centers and clothing stores. She wanted to be a nurse, and thought it might be beneficial to find a job in a hospital setting before trying to get into nursing school.

“No one would hire me because I didn’t have any experience,” she recalls. “Some hospitals said I should look into becoming a technician, but nobody again would hire me without some training.”

Acknowledging she needed help with her job search, Gooch, 29, found a way to get her foot in the door on the St. Louis Community College website. She discovered information about the college’s short-term patient care technician program, offered through STLCC’s Workforce and Community Development division. Within weeks of completing the eight-week training, Gooch was hired by BJC HealthCare at its Siteman Cancer Center.

Patient Care Technician is an industry-specific, eight-week program that offers five weeks of classroom instruction and three weeks of on-site clinical practicum. Participants learn techniques such as checking vital signs, performing CPR and assisting in medical exams. They also learn basic lab procedures, phlebotomy and a variety of other clinical duties.

The program prepares participants for entry-level positions as patient care technicians in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities. This program satisfies the requirements of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for Unlicensed Assistive Personnel; however, it does not lead to a state certification. Upon successful completion of the program, students have the opportunity to interview with the program’s participating employers.

Gooch had job offers from other hospitals, as well as the Red Cross, before she accepted the position at Siteman eight months ago. She was able to walk in and hit the ground running.

“What you are learning in the classroom and labs is exactly what you do in the hospital,” she said. “Once I was hired, it was more like ‘Can she do this by herself’ versus ‘We need to teach her everything she needs to know to do this job.’ You learn so much more in a variety of areas that this program can be a steppingstone to other areas of healthcare.”

As a single mother of two young children, Gooch needed to find employment as quickly as possible. And the biggest pluses for her were the accelerated pace of the program and that it’s free for qualified individuals.

Gooch admits that working with gravely ill individuals on a daily basis can be emotionally draining at times, but thinks her compassionate nature helps her become many families’ support system in difficult times.

“I naturally worry about other’s feelings more than my own, so it just seems second-nature to me,” Gooch said. “One of the toughest things I’ve had to do is shave the hair off one of my patients. It was emotional. You have to have a caring heart. I’ve had patients tell me it takes a special person to do what I do, but I really enjoy working with them and getting to know their families.”

Nursing school still is on the horizon, and Gooch does not anticipate any major roadblocks toward that end, other than waiting on the admissions lists.

“The patient care program really changed my life because I have a good income with benefits and a lot of opportunities I would not have had without it,” she said. “I found something I’m good at and really love what I do.”

To begin the screening and assessment for STLCC’s patient care technician program, individuals may call 314-539-5310 and leave their contact information. For information about other accelerated job training programs, click here.