SYRACUSE — Sabrina Sabin, a senior at Wawasee High School, had worked at Miller’s Merry Manor in Syracuse. She is interested in becoming a registered nurse and enjoys being able to care for people.
A program such as the certified nursing assistant program offered through the Pathways Cooperative seemed like a good fit and Sabin decided to give it a try.
Rosalinda Gonzalez, also a senior at Wawasee, works at the Lakeland Animal Clinic in Syracuse and wanted to get some experience in nursing. She is considering becoming a registered nurse, but has not fully decided on a career path.
The two are among six students in the CNA program, in its first year. Three are Wawasee students, three are West Noble High School students.
Randi Warren, primary health instructor, said the CNA program is divided into two semesters. The first semester includes classroom work and also a field site, Greencroft in Goshen, where students are getting valuable hands-on experience in nursing.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the students are at Greencroft for about three hours in the morning. They go into the resident units and help take care of the residents with basic daily activities such as getting out of bed, assisting with dressing and feeding, making their beds and more.
“They (students) are working with real people and it’s not just something they are reading in a book,” Warren noted, adding they are being paid too.
On Wednesdays, the students are in a classroom at Wawasee High School. They are taught using a state department of health curriculum. On Nov. 20, to become state certified the six students passed both a written and practical test administered by a state department of health surveyor. Licensing is good for a period of two years.
This program is part of the health sciences cluster, one of 16 career clusters, or pathways, identified by the Indiana Department of Education. Students can earn dual credits, which Warren noted saves both time and money since those credits don’t have to be paid for, and the credits can be transferred to several Indiana colleges or universities such as Goshen College, Grace College and others.
Health care is often prominent in the news and is a career in demand. “Baby boomers are aging and we are inundated with patients in need of high care,” said Warren, a nurse herself for 24 years who has seen the health care trends.
“I think we need to start people young in the health care field,” she said. “I didn’t have this option when I was in high school.”
Though the program carries the CNA label, it is not just about nursing, Warren noted. It could also mean other health care careers such as radiology, medicine, therapy and much more.
During the second semester, to begin after the Christmas break, the Ivy Tech campus at Warsaw will be used and students will be exposed to medical terminology and will take the introduction to health care careers class. Warren said learning the medical terminology will be a valuable experience for the students.
In addition to getting hands-on experience, Sabin noted she has experienced challenges during her Greencroft internship. “It can be difficult and emotional,” she said. “This little space they (residents) are in, this is their home now and we are trying to make them feel at home.”