Two health and human services graduates spoke of their successes in the fields of nursing and social work as Southern’s new College of Health and Human Services building played host to an August 3, 2022, press conference.
It was part of Governor Ned Lamont’s launch of CT Health Horizons, a new initiative in collaboration with Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) and multiple state agencies to address shortages in nursing and behavioral health providers on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having difficulty finding a right career path and wanting to transition to a career that was more holistic, Alexander Bohen, ‘21, said that the Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) nursing program’s 12-month coursework seemed “too good to be true.”
“[The accelerated nursing program] transformed my life in such a positive way, and it is having the same impact on the residents of Connecticut, who are receiving world-class care from second-career healthcare professionals like me,” said Bohen. “All this at a time when excellent healthcare is more necessary than ever.”
The governor’s $35 million initiative would provide tuition assistance and recruitment and retention of faculty and would offer innovative programs to promote partnerships between employers and institutions of higher education in building career pathways.
“By making this investment, we are taking a critical step toward expanding the number of nursing seats at our public and private institutions of higher education,” said Lamont. “We also know that the need for mental health services has only increased during the pandemic. This collaborative approach will help promote a highly educated behavioral health workforce.”
Almost immediately upon beginning his coursework in summer 2020, Bohen began working as a patient care technician at Yale New Haven Hospital.
And upon completing his final exams, he had a job waiting for him at the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he works alongside fellow accelerated nursing alumni from Southern.
“As I care for some of the most acutely ill patients in the state, the foundational nursing skills I learned at Southern allow me to provide excellent care every day,” said Bohen.
As a student, Crystal Baston-Jones, MSW ‘22, saw the importance of an affordable education. Now as a social work case manager at Yale New Haven Health, she understands the importance of advocating, treating, and giving back to those impacted by the mental health crisis.
“I am able to network with community agencies through a referral process to homecare, mental health, and health care agencies to ensure my patients have the resources they need upon discharge,” said Baston-Jones. “This provides peace of mind for the patients and their families. Programs like Southern’s social work program provides opportunities to produce professional individuals that can make an impact on someone’s life.”
CSCU President Terrence Cheng agreed that this new program will help meet state workforce needs while also creating long-term career paths for 70,000 students in the system.
“Our nursing faculty are top notch and our facilities are outstanding,” said Cheng. “Our nursing and healthcare alums are found around the state, in the big hospitals and private practices. They’re putting their skills to work every day.”
President Joe Bertolino, who welcomed Lamont, Cheng, and other distinguished guests to the press conference, said, “The demand for well-trained health and human services professionals has never been greater, and so we thank you, Governor, for providing your state educational institutions with the resources to address this area of critical need.
“Southern – and indeed all the institutions in the CSCU system – are fully committed to this vital task.”
Learn more about the College of Health and Human Services and its new 95,750 home on Fitch Street here.