Northern Essex Community College’s Campbell Connects Health Students and Employers

Nursing students in training at Northern Essex Community College. (Courtesy photograph.)

A grant is paying a Northern Essex Community College staff member to make connections between health care employers and a trained workforce, while offering opportunities for those workers to continue their education and training.

Marjorie Campbell is the new executive director of Health Care Pathways at Northern Essex Community College. Her one-year role is paid by the Boston-based John H. and H. Naomi Tomfohrde Foundation.

“Look at it as a big circle,” says Campbell. “You have employers that need certain people to meet their needs, and you have a large community of people who want better jobs.”

Campbell, of Salisbury, comes from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health where she oversaw the regulation of physicians and nurses and investigated complaints. She started her career as a registered nurse, working in various settings, from the emergency room to home health care.

Campbell says she’s eager to build upon the work at Northern Essex to connect students and health care workers with continued career growth. “This pathway discussion needs to happen early. Students might not be thinking of this now, but we need to put the bug in their ear that they will keep growing, and their lives and needs will change.”

An example, Campbell says, is talking to certified nursing assistant students about pursuing an associate of science in nursing degree eventually. “If you like that field, maybe you are interested in nursing, and we can see what skills and classes you may have taken. Maybe there’s something you can skip.”

She adds, the exact process can apply to local health care employers who want to offer employees opportunities to continue their education and advance their careers. Some may even offer incentives, like scholarships.

A third of Northern Essex students are enrolled in one of the college’s 22 associate degree and certificate programs in high-demand health care fields, ranging from nursing to respiratory care to sleep technology. Most programs are located at the El-Hefni Allied Health & Technology Center on Common St in Lawrence.  The 44,000-square-foot facility features a Health Education Simulation Center, where health care students receive hands-on experience in simulated environments such as a hospital intensive care unit, a trauma room, an acute care hospital room, an apartment, an ambulance and a doctor’s office.

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