Enabling Students to Launch Nursing Careers in Louisiana

This program offers high school students in New Orleans a free, four-year training program to become Licensed Practical Nurses

With funding from Capital One, Ochsner Health (Ochsner), a Gulf South-based nonprofit health system, is partnering with colleges, universities and high schools around Louisiana to create more opportunities for aspiring nurses of all backgrounds.

Since 2018, Capital One and Ochsner have partnered on programming designed to upskill workers in New Orleans and bring new people into the health sciences industry to close the nursing shortage in Louisiana. According to estimates by the Louisiana Board of Regents, there will be a shortfall of approximately 6,000 registered nurses (or 40 percent of the current workforce) by 2030. 

“Our partnerships with companies like Capital One are key to making this work possible,” says Missy Sparks, PhD, Vice President of Talent Management at Ochsner. “It furthers our aim to ensure that we maintain a pipeline of talented, diverse nurses in Louisiana. This is important as we address health equity, as the people we hire need to understand the cultures and backgrounds of the patients they serve. Patients also need to be able to trust healthcare workers. To truly address social determinants of health, we need to ensure that we have local cultural competency in our workforce.” 

With funding from companies including Capital One, Ochsner is bringing that vision to life through initiatives including the Nursing Pre-Apprenticeship Program. The only program of its kind in New Orleans, this free, four-year dual enrollment program provides students from various parishes the opportunity to earn college requirements for Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs. The program launched in 2023 for a cohort of 20 students.

“The Nursing Pre-Apprenticeship Program is designed for students who already have a desire to change and save lives at the bedside by entering the noble nursing profession,” Sparks said. “We want to open this pathway to them as early as possible so they can complete college coursework without incurring debt.” 

Improving Public Health Outcomes in Louisiana

The Nursing Pre-Apprenticeship Program and others like it are an integral part of the collective Healthy State initiative, a partnership with government, non-profit and education organizations to create healthier, happier and more productive communities, with health equity at the forefront of these efforts. 

During this program, the trainees complete coursework and clinical requirements equivalent to any other state-approved LPN program. Practical nurses take care of patients by feeding, bathing and maintaining patient charts. They administer medication, monitor equipment and learn patient observation skills, treatments and medications. Clinical experience makes up more than half of the program hours. 

In addition to the intensive healthcare and medical coursework, trainees will complete Impact Training at Ochsner that includes workplace ethics training, communication and problem-solving strategies. They also learn technical skills like equipment training, safety procedures and use of ancillary patient medical devices.

“This innovative curriculum is designed to give high school students a jumpstart on launching careers in a field facing a significant worker shortage in the region,” says Karen DeBlieux, New Orleans Market President at Capital One. “We are grateful for the opportunity to join forces with Ochsner to offer training pipelines so that students can launch careers in public health upon graduating high school."

For one current participant, this program has helped narrow her focus on a specific career in the nursing field.

“This program has helped me explore and understand the different medical professions and guide me toward which one would be perfect for me,” says Tiara, a high school student in the inaugural cohort. “In addition to narrowing my focus on a specific career, it has also provided me with the tools I will use to solve challenges and overcome any issues that I may encounter in the medical field. I’m developing myself into a better nurse by learning skills in effective communication, decision-making and practical expertise.”

How Capital One and Ochsner are Supporting Workforce Development Throughout the State

In addition to supporting the Nursing Pre-Apprenticeship LPN Program, Capital One also provides funding to Ochsner’s Healthcare Fundamentals program, which trains both incumbent workers and job seekers from non-traditional or under-skilled entry level career pathways for roles in the healthcare industry. Capital One has supported skills training for program participants in New Orleans, Lafayette and Shreveport, Louisiana, including providing financial education courses.

Capital One’s effort to support Ochsner’s unique workforce development programs come as part of the Capital One Impact Initiative, a multi-year commitment to advance socioeconomic mobility. Learn more.

Related Content