Date: Wed, Apr 5th, 2023

'Magic' of healthcare celebrated at Great Falls College

Ashlynn SanMiguel celebrates earning healthcare certifications with her family.

“Magic happened at Great Falls High.”

That was the declaration of Tammie Hickey on Tuesday evening during the third Healthcare Recognition Celebration for those completing medical credentials as part of Great Falls College MSU’s Continuing Education and Training’s program.

Hickey is the director of Great Falls College’s Continuing Education and Training and Great Falls Public Schools’ Career and College Readiness Center.

New this year was a partnership with Great Falls High, where 15 students are taking the semester-long course and will have the opportunity to receive their CNA Montana state licensure, home health aide endorsement, EKG and wound care basics certificate of completion, healthcare CPR certification, work ethic certificate of completion, financial literacy and job placement assistance.

One of those is Great Falls High junior Ashlynn SanMiguel.

She was impressed.

“It’s really great,” she said. “It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and told me it’s OK to ask for help.”

She has plans to become an endocrinologist and is excited to start her medical career so early.

“CNAs are the building block of the medical field,” she explained. “Working (now) as a CNA will help me be a better doctor, a better caregiver.”

SanMiguel is a Type 1 diabetic, which is how she is familiar with endocrinologists.

“I really look up to my endocrinologist,” she said. “That’s why I want to be an endocrinologist. I know a lot of people have a fear of the doctor, and I don’t want that (for my patients). I want to create a safe environment for people.”

Starting in the fall, high school trainings will be delivered at both C.M. Russell and Great Fall High each semester. 

Tuesday’s celebration was in front of a packed house at Great Falls College as friends and families came to celebrate the accomplishment of the students.

Many of the students got roaring applause.

“I got everyone here,” said Atriana Larson, when a big roar went up.

It’s needed as Great Falls College’s Continuing Education and Training started the program during the pandemic when a shortage of CNAs was acute, Hickey told the crowd.

All told 195 students have completed at least one of the certifications since the program’s inception.   

“We need to change the narrative of the workforce shortage,” Hickey said.  

Quincie Jones, director of Great Falls College’s health sciences and career and technical education, emphasized that Tuesday’s celebration was just a beginning as students could use it as a stepping stone in the health care field, including Great Falls College’s programs.

“Remember to take care of yourself while you take care of others,” she said.

While the partnership with Great Falls Public Schools took the spotlight on Tuesday, numerous others celebrated the completion of their certificates.

The Continuing Education and Training Department collaborates extensively with industry to develop responsive training options.

The college has expanded its trainings to include: home health aide training for state endorsement, medication aide I and II, healthcare CPR certification and customized trainings upon request.

The college has helped more than 18 businesses in eight communities by helping them fill positions with quality workers.

CNA classes outside of the high schools are offered each month in two formats: in-person and online.

The online course is a hybrid model where students complete coursework online and are also required to be on-campus six scheduled days during the 13-day program. Other healthcare trainings are offered on rotation at various times.

The trainings incorporate support from Great Falls Public School’s Career and College Readiness Center on the college’ campus for academic assessment, work ethic training and transitional job placements.

Reach out to the Continuing Education and Training at Great Falls College for more information at 406-771-2290.


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Record Number: 812