The Richmond Register

Education

November 18, 2012

High schoolers become Certified Nursing Assistants

RICHMOND — About four years ago, Bethany Maynard’s 3-year-old sister Alexa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells in bone marrow.

Although Alexa, now 7, is in remission, she still has complications from the disease and relies on the care of others, Bethany said.

Lucky for Alexa, she has her sister Bethany, who wants to one day become a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in childhood cancers.

A junior at Madison Southern High School, Bethany, is completing the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course at the school. The course teaches basic clinical skills and will ultimately prepare students for the CNA licensing exam.

“After what we’ve gone through and after what I’ve seen doctors do — how they help people — I really want to help kids like they helped my sister,” Bethany said.

This is the second year CNA courses have been offered at both Southern and Madison Central high schools. The course is a partnership between the county school district and the Medical Careers Training Center (MCTC) in Richmond.

The instructor provided by MCTC, Linda Amon, has been a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for more than 27 years. Although she never taught in a high school, Amon said she taught adults similar skills at Saint Joseph East Hospital in Lexington for 18 years.

Students in the course will have an opportunity to take state board exams to earn a CNA license. Normally, applicants are required to be at least 18-years-old to take the exams, Amon said. However, students who take the high school course and are 17 years old, receive a special waiver. Students with financial need will receive assistance to cover the exam fees, she said.

Last year, 14 of the 20 students who elected to take the exam received certification and are ready to be employed in the medical field, according to a release by the district. 

The Medicaid-funded program is only offered at Central and Southern, but Amon hopes to expand it to Berea Community School and others, she said.

CNA students have access to mannequins to practice ADLS, or “activities of daily living.” They learn resuscitation skills with choking dummies, but most of all, “they learn compassion and respect when caring for older adults,” Amon said.

For those who will go on to achieve even higher levels of certification in a medical field, understanding what tasks CNAs perform everyday is essential for a medical care team, she said. CNA certification will be a “stepping stone” for some students.

Senior Darrien Fields, 18, used the skills he is learning to ensure his 96-year-old grandfather is being cared for properly in his nursing home, he said. He plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

Darrien enjoys the field trips to nursing homes, he said, where they are able to visit with patients and get real-life experience.

“I’ve learned (the material) much faster in this class than in other classes,” he said. “I know what Ms. Amon expects and it is very hands-on.”

Senior Lauren Marshall, 17, has always wanted to be a veterinarian. Learning basic medical skills now will give her a jump-start on her career, she said.

“Since I’m learning now what most students won’t learn until their second year in college, I’ll be able to focus on other important courses like mathematics and biology,” Lauren said.

Lauren plans to earn her certification and work her way through college as a CNA, she said.

Member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and senior Andrew Selover, 18, plans to pursue a job in the military, either as a field medic, surgeon or police officer. Regardless of which direction he chooses, Andrew said the CNA course is teaching him the skills the skills he will need to help an injured soldier.

Andrew thought the course would be “more on the technical side,” he said. Instead, he has learned practical skills that have prepared him to help his grandfather, who suffers from arthritis and has limited mobility because he has had three vertebrae removed, Andrew said.

Another thing Andrew has learned is to “never pull a catheter out yourself,” he said. “I never want that to happen to me either.”

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696. 

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