OPELIKA – Six of Southern Union State Community College’s nursing students signed with healthcare facilities in the Opelika area in the first Alabama Signing Day for the Alabama Nursing Career Pathways (ANCP) initiative, 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 healthcare 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 companies:

Victoria Bearden Harrison, of Auburn, Dadeville Healthcare Center

Aubry Gray, of Phenix City, Arbor Springs Health & Rehab

Michelle Elliott, of Opelika, Arbor Springs Health & Rehab

Shamel Hart, of Auburn, SNF at East Alabama Medical Center

Shontesia Austin, of Auburn, SNF at East Alabama Medical Center

Frankie Ammons, of Auburn, Arbor Springs Health & Rehab

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

According to Matthew Lewis, Administrator at Arbor Springs Health and Rehab Center, Ltd. 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 in regard to top quality healthcare 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 healthcare system,” he said. “If the caliber of the nursing students signing today is any indication of Alabama’s future healthcare providers then great days are ahead. I am grateful that Alabama’s community colleges for listening to industry, stepping up to the plate, and developing this incredible program which is an immediate benefit to East Alabama.”

– Matthew Lewis, Alabama Nursing Home Association Region 6 Director

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.”

-Todd Shackett, Southern Union State CC President

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