TWINSBURG -- In a region where medicine is big business, you'd think health care workers would have it good.
"Nursing has always been in demand, and I can certainly say that it probably always will be," says Ann Kavanaugh, Kent State University's ADN program director.
But for licensed practical nurses like Lisa Petonovich, outlook is grim.
"It's been very tough out there," Petonovich says. "A lot of hospitals have mandated that you become an RN by a certain date, or you will lose your job."
It's a call many facilities are making in an attempt to upgrade care.
Facing that ultimatum after 13 years as an LPN, she chose school, but finding a way to make it happen while working fulltime and carrying for family?
That's where Kent State's new weekend co-hort came in.
"This was designed those who are LPNs who are out there working," Kavanaugh says.
During every other weekend off work, she and 18 other students are part of a pilot program to graduate in 16 months with a more desirable RN license. "A little bit more money. A lot more marketable. And able to pursue leadership, management positions," Petonovich says.
And it's all happening in Twinsburg, not far from Shante Terrell's work at the Cleveland Clinic. Students say the cutting edge lab will help them prepare for clinicals and their work beyond.
"It can be a little exhausting at times, but let's just say I can't wait till we're done," Terrell says.
She says the best part is knowing, "jobs are out there."
She recently searched a hospital job website. She found three listings for LPN jobs and more than 300 for RN positions.
The Regional Academic Center held a ribbon cutting Wednesday, but students started the program in May. The university is already looking at a second class of weekend co-hort students to begin next May.
About 150 students are doing the LPN to RN transition fulltime, in a fast-track year long program.