Six of Southern Union State Community College’s nursing students signed with nursing homes in the Opelika area in the first Alabama Signing Day for the Alabama Nursing Career Pathways (ACNP) initiative. The ACNP is a partnership among Alabama’s community colleges and the Alabama Nursing Home Association.

ANCP is a statewide community college initiative that pairs nursing students with employers for what are known as workplace externships. The externships are specialized seven-month training programs that pay students a salary and provide scholarships for their education in critically needed health care fields. Employers also sign commitments with the externs to cover the cost of licensures throughout the externship, as well as grant the externs two years of employment after completion of the externship.

Southern Union’s six students signed with the following nursing homes:

The students that qualified for the program interviewed with each company to determine their selection for the externships.

According to Matthew Lewis, Administrator of Arbor Springs Health & Rehab Center in Opelika and Region 6 Director for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, the externship opportunity began because of the reputation Alabama’s community colleges have statewide regarding top quality health care training programs.

“The demand for highly qualified nurses continues to increase in Alabama, and particularly in the state’s nursing homes, so programs such as this one are game-changers for the state’s health care system,” he said. “If the caliber of these nursing students is an indication of Alabama’s future health care providers then great days are ahead. I am grateful that Alabama’s community colleges are listening to industry, stepping up to the plate, and developing this incredible program which is an immediate benefit to east Alabama.”

The ANCP externships are a culmination of a partnership with the Alabama Nursing Home Association. According to state data, both licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) are among the highest demand career paths in Alabama.

Todd Shackett, President of Southern Union State Community College, praised the initiative and the success of its launch at the college.

“At Southern Union, we serve as the bridge between our students and the best version of their future. Partnerships like this one, that not only provide on-the-ground training but also a path to guaranteed employment can be life changing for our students and I’m proud to launch this program at our college.”

The ANCP externships will be available to nursing students statewide by 2024.

With campuses in Opelika, Wadley and Valley, Southern Union is the second oldest two-year college in the state of Alabama.

Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from a press release issued by the Alabama Community College System and Southern Union State Community College.

Seated from the left SUSCC nursing students Shamel Hart and Shontesia Austin. Standing is Suzanne Callahan from SNF at East Alabama Medical Center.

SUSCC nursing student Victoria Harrison and Dadeville Healthcare’s Brantley Newton.

Seated from the left: SUCSS nursing students Frankie Ammons, Michelle Elliott and Aubry Gray. Standing is Matthew Lewis and Annie Swanson from Arbor Springs.