Nursing, plumbing, correctional officer programs available at Humboldt Higher Education Center
by DANNY WADE | Senior Editor
When Jackson State Community College pulled out of the Humboldt Higher Education Center on Main St. in Humboldt last year, there were concerns of how to use the historic building. The city contacted TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) Jackson with hopes of bringing vocational courses to Humboldt.
That hope became a reality, bringing new life to the landmark Humboldt school building. John Hodgson is vice president of workforce development for TCAT Jackson and is thrilled to offer three courses at the higher education center. TCAT Jackson has satellite locations in Lexington, Henderson, Whiteville, Brownsville, the McWherter Building on the Jackson State Community College campus and now in Humboldt. TCAT also offers dual credit programs, partnering with 17 high schools in West Tennessee, including Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School.
“We’re offering three courses in Humboldt for now—practical nursing program, plumbing/pipe fitting program and criminal justice correctional officer training program,” VP Hodgson said. “TCAT had the nursing program here before when Jackson State was here.”
Heather Doolin and Savannah Rushing are the practical nursing instructors. Rushing and Doolin said this class began last September.
Rushing and Doolin said there are currently 14 students in the nursing program. New classes will begin every September with 20 to 22 students. The practical nursing program is a 12-month program that teaches skills with all aspects required for students to become an LPN (licensed practical nurse). Skills include medicine administration, taking vital signs, physicals, injections, IVs, catheters and more. They said the program is everything from making a bed or washing your hands to starting a tracheotomy.
The program includes clinicals where students receive hands-on training at area hospitals and nursing homes. Clinicals are held two days a week for nine hours each day.
Students that complete the course will receive a diploma and will be prepared to take the state LPN
test to earn their nurses license. Those wanting to continue to be an RN (registered nurse) or even beyond to become a nurse practitioner will have the credentials to get into those schools. TCATs do not offer RN programs, but they partner with JSCC and DSCC with a bridge program for the RN program.
Another program that just began last month is plumbing/pipe fitting. Darrell Roland is the instructor. Since this program started in mid-term, there has been only one student to enroll. Roland said the next class will begin in May and hopes to have 20-22 students participate.
The plumbing/pipe fitting course is a 12-month program that teaches skills needed to complete most any new installation or repairs dealing with plumbing—for both water and natural gas. Roland said some of the skills taught will be DMV (drain, waste and vent systems), water lines, sweating copper pipe, threading pipe, reading blueprints, and working with both cast iron and PVC pipe.
Roland said students must know how to read a tape measure, as well as, working with fractions. There will be lessons on working with power tools and hand tools used in the trade.
Humboldt is currently the only TCAT plumbing/pipe fitting course offered in West Tennessee. Roland and Hodgson are hopeful to work with Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School, Milan High School, Haywood County and other high schools in West Tennessee to partner with a dual credit program, perhaps piggy-backing on a program already being offered in the high schools, such as general building trades. Students could receive high school credits along with technology hours.
Roland said there is a misconception that comes with the plumbing/pipe fitting course of being for repair professionals. He said a small percentage of students getting into plumbing do repair work. The majority of the jobs are in new construction.
The third program offered in Humboldt is criminal justice correctional officer training. This is a new program that has yet to start, but plans are to begin the course in May. Jordan Weatherford is the instructor.
Similar to plumbing, correctional officer training is not offered in West Tennessee and the only other TCAT location is in Elizabethton, Tenn. This course is an 8-month class and received start-up funding through the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
The criminal justice correctional officer training gets people trained and ready to work in a jail or prison environment. Weatherford said the first half of the program focuses on corrections with basic skills such as self-defense tactics, hand buffing and basic medical first aid. One of the main focuses of the program is interpersonal communication skills where students are taught how to talk people the right way to get their point across, to de-escalate a situation and to talk down instead of take down.
There is also training for in depth correctional theory of why and how people commit crimes.
Roland said the second half of the program is more hands on. Students will move into the patrol stage, working with deputies and police officers. In the second stage of the course, students will work with pepper spray, taser guns and other tools correctional officers have at their disposal.
Weatherford is currently working on constructing a jail inside Humboldt Higher Education Center, along with a Milo simulator to learn when to shoot or do not shoot.
Weatherford says there is a misconception of correctional officers, and jails and prisons that people see on television shows. Instead, he said inside the perimeter fence is a city. There are medical positions, education and food service—a very broad array of occupations. Weatherford said if it happens in the real word, there is an opportunity in corrections.
Students receive training from industry experts from the U.S. Marshal’s Office, Tennessee Department of Corrections and OIC (Office of Investigations and Conduct), which Weatherford said is a prison version of the TBI.
Graduates of the correctional officer course will attend the Tennessee Corrections Institute, which is
required by the state to work in this field. Weatherford said some prisons have their own in-house certifications, but those may only take a week or two and are very basic.
TCAT’s program will produce a better, more highly-trained officer, according to Weatherford. He said jail administrators and sheriffs love this program.
With future plans to move the Humboldt Board of Education Central Office in the Humboldt Higher Education Center, Hodgson said these three courses are probably all the center will be able to accommodate. There are six TCAT positions working in Humboldt—VP Hodgson, the four instructors and admissions clerk Leah Wimberley.
Hodgson said TCATs are constantly receiving calls and emails from businesses ready to hire as soon as student complete the course and earn their certifications. He added this is common for many courses to have practically every employable student offered a job waiting for them as they become certified.
If anyone is interested in getting into any of these fields offered in Humboldt or at any of the other TCAT Jackson locations, visit TCATJackson.edu. There, you can find a plethora of training opportunities and work your way to becoming certified in a highly coveted career.