New CNA Program

High School Students Earn CNA Certification Through Six-Week Summer Program
Posted on 08/22/2018
High School Students Earn CNA Certification Through Six-Week Summer Program
Students from Armstrong and Cooper high schools recently spent part of their summer vacation in medical scrubs.

These 11 juniors and seniors recently participated in a six-week pilot program at Cooper High School to earn their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. They were interviewed and selected from a group of 30 applicants, and when these students earn their certification, they will be eligible for employment with Augustana Care. The class is a mixture of classroom and hands-on learning, with 58 different medical skills being taught. Half of the classroom looks familiar, with desks in rows. The other half is occupied by hospital beds, medical devices, and a training dummy.

"Nursing assistants are what makes the entire health care field go around," said Rachel Shannon, an administrator with Excellence Health Career Center, the company offering the certification training. "We work really closely with residents to help with maintaining their dignity and a level of independence. We dot every 'I' and cross every 'T' for the team. It's just a vital position in health care."

In class on Wednesday, July 11, Armstrong High School senior Adeline Mansaray and Armstrong High School senior Emily Sillah role-played a range of motion check between a patient and a CNA. Mansaray was in a hospital bed, and Sillah used her CNA training to test her patient's range of motion.

"Right now, I'll be doing a passive range of motion on your arms, on your shoulder and on your elbow," Sillah said, adding, "Please let me know if you feel any pain."

Another bed over, three students practiced the safe removal of potentially contaminated protective gear. One of those students was Armstrong High School senior Javiera Orellana-Barrera.

"I think this prepares me for what I want to do for the future," Orellana-Barrera said. "I was planning on being a nurse when I was older, so this is very important, because it's a way to get into the medical field. It's a great opportunity, because I get a chance to be ahead of the game."

For now, they are learning valuable skills which are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom population ages, nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed to assist and care for elderly patients."

"This district has really invested in each and every one of these students, and I am confident the investment will be returned," Shannon said. "I am really proud of their progress. One of these young people could one day save our lives."

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