March 13, 2018
Story and photos by Micah Oelze
Barton Community College has partnered with Larned State Hospital (LSH) to further educate its employees and help them advance in their careers by becoming Licensed Mental Health Technicians (LMHTs). Those interested must apply by April 1. Classes will take place both online and at LSH.
LMHTs work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse, helping pass medication and at times taking charge of a unit while a nurse runs between units.
Barton’s Mental Health Technician Coordinator and Instructor Cherie Shaver said LSH Mental Health Developmental Disability Techs (MHDDs) would benefit most from the program.
“Barton and Larned State Hospital have formed a partnership to help bring this program back to help the Larned State Hospital employees feel like they have a place to grow and a way to improve their careers,” she said.
Shaver said those not currently working at the hospital as an MHDD can still use this as an excellent stepping stone.
“If you like the idea of working in the medical world, mental health facilities or a similar environment, this helps give you an idea on if it is a good fit for you,” she said. “If you do, you can advance onto becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or RN.”
Rico McCall, a Barton MHT student and Client Training Supervisor at LSH, found himself in a similar situation. McCall has been working at LSH since 2015. He said he had always had an interest in the medical world but didn’t want to bite off more than he could chew by diving into a Registered Nurse program.
“I enjoy the nursing atmosphere and I really enjoy the mental health atmosphere at LSH,” he said. “I am just taking baby steps and making sure I can do the job and enjoy it along the way before I put a bunch of time into nursing and later down the road find out I don’t want to do it. So far it is pretty solid.”
McCall was content with his position but was not sure how it could help him transfer into nursing until he received an email about the MHT program through Barton. As an experienced MHDD in good standing, the state hospital helped to pay for McCall’s MHT education and help with his work schedule to help him and others become LMHTs. In return, the hospital asks for one to two years of service as an LMHT.
“The MHT program sparked my interest right there,” McCall said. “It takes care of a lot of main concerns: how to pay for it and how to work while going to school.”
Rebecca Scripsick, Director of Nursing at Larned State Hospital, expressed her excitement for Barton’s MHT program and bringing the position back.
“Barton has helped provide the opportunities for MHDDs to step up in their career,” she said. “Prior to Barton, there was no advancement for an MHDD, unless they went to nursing school.”
She also commented on that they are working to raise the wage for LMHTs at LSH.
“We are very low staffed with LMHTs because there are not a lot of schools which offer this education.”
Arkansas and Kansas are the only two states who provide LMHT training.
While discussing the field of mental health, McCall spoke on how often these patients are overlooked.
“These people need to be taken care of too,” he said. “They are very diverse; a lot are just misunderstood and some just don’t get the appropriate care because people don’t know how to take care of them.”
McCall encouraged those interested in mental health to go for it.
“Give it a shot. Don’t be afraid, don’t question it,” he said. “If anyone is interested in it, try it. Don’t rely on negative things you might hear elsewhere. Try it for yourself and make the decision.”
For more information, contact Barton Mental Health Technician Coordinator and Instructor Cherie Shaver at firstname.lastname@example.org.