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Learning by Doing--Nurse Aide Students Complete Clinicals

The Nurse Aide Class stands in front of their clinicals location to remember their time working with those in need. (Courtesy Photo)

By Chloe Coleman--Eagle Staff Writer

Nine FCHS seniors are soon to become certified nurse aides, thanks to one class in particular this semester. How did they do this, one may ask? Introducing the Nurse Aide class.

A nurse aide is someone who supports doctors and nurses in patient care, diagnostic procedures, and technical treatments. Once students pass their written and skills exams, they’re on their way to becoming nurse aides and more.

“The state requires each program to meet certain minimum requirements: 140 instructional hours, 40 clinical hours, and 20 skills lab hours. These hours will be increased for the 2023 year as per the Board of Nursing,” explained Cynthia Flora, RN and classroom instructor of the course.

Along with the requirements to become certified, there are qualifications just to take the class. Students must complete an application for the class, have no issues with absenteeism, and show previous good grades in biology, chemistry, and algebra. Past health/medical classes and/or experience are preferred; however, some of this information will be covered in class.

“We generally have clinicals 2 days per week and classroom/skills lab 3 days per week,” Flora described. “Our clinicals are held at a local skilled facility/nursing home. This is where [students] have the opportunity to perform hands-on skills, after learning them in the classroom/skills lab first."

The class is a part of the CTE program, so students learn different skills than in a traditional classroom, with an emphasis on professionalism and communication.

These clinicals took place at Rocky Mount Health and Rehabilitation, where students worked with all kinds of patients. They see the reality of a nursing home and a career in nursing firsthand, both good and bad.

“I’ve learned that you have to be patient and compassionate. All residents are different and you need to work with them and do your best to provide the best care,” recalled senior Kayleigh Cundiff, who plans to join the medical field as an OBGYN after graduation.

“Seeing post-mortem care was definitely an experience. We saw one yesterday. It was fresh. We got to see [staff] clean them and everything. It definitely made me appreciate life more,” continued Cundiff.

Senior Alex Baumberger took away different lessons - and experiences.

“I learned how to be comfortable in a professional, medical setting. That's really really important,” he commented. “There’s always something new, always a surprise. I spilled pee on another student.”

During the semester, Nurse Aide students also practiced with dummy patients in their interactive classroom. (Photo by Emma Duncan)

Memories like this are what have bonded the class.

“We’re a very tight class. We know everything about each other. It’s three hours long so of course we’re gonna talk. We kinda do everything together,” added Harley Brooks, another senior in the class.

Students didn’t only build relationships with each other, but also with the patients in the nursing home.

“I really love working with all the people at the retirement home because I’ve grown to find a love for them,” said Brooks.

Senior Abby Cooper had been waiting to take the Nurse Aide Clinical class since she started taking health classes. She also learned a lot this semester.

“I was really excited about this class because I’ve done all the learning classes and I was ready to get the hands-on experience. It's taught me how to be more social and be open to more friendships, talking to people, having an impact on residents' days, you know, just asking them how they feel this morning,” Cooper commented.

For future seniors interested in taking the class, most current students agreed: the best way to prepare is to just get started.

“I don’t think anybody can fully be prepared for this experience. It’s a learning experience [that's] hands-on. That’s the best way to prepare you and teach you. You’re there face to face with your patient and team members,” Cooper advised.

Flora spoke very highly of her Nurse Aides in training and appreciated having them in her class.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them learn and grow this semester," Flora recollected. "They are going to make excellent CNAs!"

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