CNAs Are Integral to Health Care

Thursday, March 07, 2019

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As Baby Boomers age, additional health care professionals will be needed to assist with elderly patients. Training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a wise choice for anyone looking for job security. It’s an in-demand occupation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 18 percent increase in CNA jobs through 2024.

A CNA position is also a beneficial introduction to the health care field. It provides hands-on experience caring for patients in a therapeutic setting and is a crucial role in the health care setting. CNAs serve as part of the patient care team, which means they interact with nurses and doctors as well.

Lauri Wolter, director of nursing at the South Dakota Human Services Center, believes CNA training and work experience are valuable for anyone interested in a health care career. Wolter worked as a CNA at HRC ManorCare Health Services in Aberdeen with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients for several years while attending nursing school.

She’s the first to admit that it wasn’t an easy job. “Nobody wanted to work there. People are scared to work with the clientele because they can be aggressive and sometimes assaultive,” says Wolter.

Such settings have a high staff turnover due to the challenging nature of the work, but Wolter says the experience shaped her. It was an invaluable introduction to working with patients that influenced both her care philosophy and her career trajectory.

Wolter initially had plans to work as an obstetrics nurse but she really enjoyed her last year of clinical training at the Human Services Center (HSC), which serves patients will mental health issues. When she was offered a full-time position at HSC, she accepted it.

That initial role of staff nurse presented patient challenges that were similar to what Wolter encountered working as a CNA. Because of her experience, she was prepared. She’s now been working at HSC for 16 years. “This is what I was meant to do. I love it.”

Wolter notes that her CNA work experience also helped her as a manager. “It gave me a greater appreciation for anybody who is a CNA,” she says, noting that when she interviews nurses or interns, those with direct patient care and CNA certifications stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.

“Their work ethic has been molded from working as a CNA,” explains Wolter. “That’s such a valuable experience moving forward.”

Free CNA Training in Yankton

Chart Your Career The Chart Your Career (CYC) program offers scholarships for free CNA training. Applicants must be 16 years old. The CYC Scholarship pays for the full cost of a 9-12 week CNA training course offered by Avera Education and Staffing as well as one certification test for accepted applicants. Applicants need to have computer and internet access for the online portion of the course. Find out more: www.chartyourcareer.org

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