Teri Jones, left, spearheaded the creation of the Elderly Compassionate Care-METCA program. Photo courtesy of METCA

Teri Jones was one of three Workforce Education Innovators recognized by Florida College Access Network at the 2019 FCAN Summit. This follow-up story highlights Jones’ work as a community leader helping to address a chronic shortage of healthcare workers by providing comprehensive support for low-income adults looking to transition into the in-demand healthcare field.

Teri Jones and the leadership team at Macedonia Education Technology and Career Academy (METCA) are helping serve the talent pipeline needs of Brevard County.

In 2017, Jones spearheaded the creation of the Elderly Compassionate Care-METCA program, which provides assistance and scholarship funds to low-income adults looking for entry-level healthcare training in the home health aide (HHA), certified nursing assistant (CNA), and licensed practical nursing (LPN) career fields. METCA is the only resource of its type to provide targeted and hands-on supportive assistance for getting into healthcare careers, a field with critical shortages.

She started by coordinating recruitment fairs for potential program participants, with support from CareerSource Brevard, Goodwill Job Industries, Eastern Florida State College, Brevard Nursing Academy, Keiser University, and lots of volunteers.

“I refer to our recruitment fairs as ‘casting calls.’ At these events, I explain how we are going to support our participants by serving as counselors, mentors and advocates while facilitating their access to scholarship funds for their training,” said Jones, who added that a partnership with CareerSource Brevard in November 2017 resulted in a grant for scholarships funds. Jones also helps selected candidates navigate the college application process.

METCA serves high school graduates and working age adults (age 18-64), which means many participants haven’t been in a classroom for a long time. To support those students, Jones also partnered with Brevard Adult Education to create prep classes before the adult learners take their TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) and TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) examinations. The TABE is a diagnostic test used by many companies in selecting employees for training programs for skilled positions, while TEAS is specifically designed to assess a student’s preparedness for entering health science fields.

“I met with the Brevard Adult Education director, Jeff Arnott, and proposed that we collaborate on the development of a TABE preparation program so the students don’t just wash out,” Jones said. The goal was to establish prep courses that could help adult learners meet entrance requirements for the CNA and LPN training programs. “I was also fortunate to identify a private institution, Educare Envision Educational Services, that provides TEAS prep training. Fortunately, they were willing to partner with METCA, and hence the creation of the TEAS Prep Academy.“

The TABE Boot Camp created by Jones and taught by Brevard Adult Education is a three-week training course that takes place four days a week, three times each year and was structured for CNA and LPN student candidates. The more extensive TEAS Prep Academy occurs twice a year over a six-week period and was structured for LPN student candidates.

Jones said she also spends a significant amount of time evaluating skills that can’t necessarily be measured by a test.

“You have to be alert, attentive, detail-oriented, and have a caring and nurturing personality in order to be successful and happy as a healthcare provider,” Jones said. “I take my time to vet prospective students to ensure they demonstrate the appropriate soft skills while they are in the classroom or in one of my orientation sessions.” At the onset of preparing adult learners for training, Jones builds training cohorts so students can support each other through the training as study buddies, by sharing rides, and more

Since METCA’s launch in September 2017, the Elderly Compassionate Care program has trained 7 HHAs, 36 CNAs and 14 LPNs. Jones added that the program is currently looking to expand its services by collaborating with hiring agencies and facilities within the area.

“We are with our students from start to finish,” Jones said. “Once our METCA students complete their training, we are available to assist with preparation for their state exams. We also assist with job placement by exposing our students to healthcare job fairs and meetings with hiring agencies/facilities.

“Our goal is to ensure a timely and efficient transition from training to employment.”


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