"There was a demand here in New Iberia," says Barras, who worked for six months to get the school licensed by the Louisiana Board of Regents and now serves as its director. Located in a former retail space on Main Street next to the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce, the site is ideal for the training facility. "People think we built this just for the school," she says. "We have seven classrooms with the ability to take over more space, which we're planning on doing by the end of the year."
The academy offers training courses for dental assistants, medical office assistants, EKG technicians and phlebotomy techs (those who draw blood) and hopes to expand it course offerings. "We are working on a number of curriculums," says Barras. The first session ended in August, and the response has been overwhelming. "My next sessions are all maxed [out]," she notes, and the next available openings are in October.
The academy is pulling from Houma, Morgan City and other communities down U.S. Hwy. 90, as well as the Kaplan, Erath and Abbeville areas. "We also have several students from Lafayette," says Barras, who lives in Delcambre.
The EKG program, which is enrolling now for its first session in November, is a four-week curriculum that costs $1,500. The others are 10-week programs ' eight weeks in the classroom and the last two in a clinical setting ' that cost $2,100. To qualify, students need a high school diploma or a GED and a minimum score on the entrance exam.
In January the academy will introduce evening sessions for all curriculums, a demand created by working people looking for a career change.
GeneÃ© Broussard was living in Lafayette and waiting tables in New Iberia when her mother told her about the academy. Broussard's great grandfather and grandfather were dentists, and she had done a short stint as an orthodontist's assistant, work she really enjoyed. "I knew I needed more training, and [the academy] offers hands-on experience," she says. Before the training session was over, Dr. Tony Soileau's cosmetic dentistry practice in Lafayette offered Broussard a job. "I actually finished early because I'd received a job while still in school," she says. "I completed my clinicals early [with Soileau in the afternoons after class]."
Broussard says the academy's staff was very supportive during her application process. "They really made the door wide open that I could do this," she says.
Though Broussard was certain she wanted to be a dental assistant, many of the students who stop by aren't sure which health care avenue they want to pursue, so Barras ' who has a decade of experience as an instructor ' helps guide them in the right direction. "When they come in, we like to sit down and go over all of their options. We encourage them to come in and tour all of the areas. They can see all the dental instruments, all the surgical instruments. It's a good way to decide."
The school de-emphasizes textbook learning in favor of a more hands-on approach, an effective teaching tool Barras believes the students also prefer. "They want to touch it and feel it," the director says.
The medical community has also been supportive, providing jobs for a high percentage of the students before they even complete the sessions. Says Barras, "The docs are very excited because they don't have to take out an ad [when looking for workers]. They just call the school."
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
St. Patty's Day crafts
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?