If all goes as planned, come spring, 17-year-old Kailee Dyer will be graduating Ridgeview High School and looking for a job as a certified nursing assistant.
Kailee is enrolled with about 20 fellow students in a special nursing assistant course that will prepare them to test for their state certificates.
“CNA gets my foot in the door,” said Kailee, who ultimately wants to study to become a registered nurse. Her goal is to move to the Portland area and spend a year working as a certified nursing assistant after she graduates in June. That way she can save some money and enroll in community college in fall 2019.
Ridgeview High School, which opened in 2012, was built with a medical lab to serve just this type of program, but it sat empty for a few years. In time for this school year, Redmond School District and Central Oregon Community College came together to make the program happen. The class began this month because it is a second trimester course.
The 20 students in the course took a health occupations course in their first trimester as a precursor to the nursing assistant class.
Students who complete the class and pass their state tests will be certified to work in health care settings such as long-term care, hospitals and home health. The money the students will save taking the class in high school is significant — about $1,000, estimates Kari McDaniel, Central Oregon Community College’s nursing assistant program coordinator. The program at Ridgeview pays for items including the state board test, a required drug screening, background check and scrubs, plus it doesn’t charge tuition like a college would.
Donna Gilmore, who is also the school nurse, teaches the course and will sometimes be joined by COCC instructors. During classroom lecture time, the teacher-student ratio required by the state for a nursing assistant program is 1 to 20. During practice time, when students will learn hands-on, the ratio is 1 to 10, which is when two instructors will be necessary.
On Thursday, one of their first days in the class, students practiced proper hand-washing in health care settings. Gilmore and McDaniel took a bottle of special goop that glows under a black light and squirted it onto all of the students’ hands. The goop dried, and would stay on their hands unless they washed them well. The instructors then reminded students how to do that: Turn the faucet on hot but not so much that it will burn; wash every part of the hand, including palms and between fingers; and scrub at least 20 seconds — about the length of time it takes to sing the alphabet. After drying their hands completely, students were instructed to use another dry paper towel to turn off the faucet.
“What’s the trouble with using a wet paper towel to turn the faucet off?” Gilmore said.
“Germs,” the students chimed in unison.
While waiting for their turn with one of the sinks, the teens compared washing hands this way to the way they’re expected to wash at their workplaces. The takeaway: This was more intensive washing than is expected in those fast-food joints.
Jonathan Calles, 17 and a senior, said the only downside to taking this class, which takes place during first period, was having to choose between it and some Advanced Placement courses scheduled for the same time. But the benefit of getting ahead on a career in health care couldn’t be beat, Calles said.
In the third trimester of the course in the spring, students will get to work with certified nursing assistants and clients at Regency Redmond Rehabilitation and Nursing Center or Regency Prineville Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, under the guidance of Gilmore, McDaniel and other COCC instructors. Central Oregon Community College plans to offer a course over summer at Ridgeview for students to earn their certified nursing assistant 2 licenses.
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