Health Career Juniors started their career path two years, just as COVID-19 struck. Despite the setbacks, the students who tested for their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) State Exams passed with a one-hundred percent success rate for the second year in a row.
These students have faced numerous obstacles to get where they are today, including virtual education, changing protocols, difficulties entering facilities to obtain their clinical hours, and most recently, a change in their testing criteria days before their exam.
When the juniors selected their Career Program, they had no idea they would be faced with a worldwide Pandemic that would shut down the world. When they would have been receiving hands-on education from their highly qualified instructors at Tri-County RVTHS, they were forced to work remotely for safety reasons.
Prior to the pandemic, protocols would change but not as frequently as they have due to COVID. For example, at the end of the 2021 school year, the students could wear masks without face shields during their assisted living hours, but they were asked to wear face shields again at the start of the 2022 school year. Wearing face shields may seem like a small change, but it can become sweltering when lifting and rolling patients.
Health Career students benefit by gaining clinical hours as part of their vocational training. These hours help students gain the interpersonal skills necessary to enter their line of work as well as the procedures for proper mouth care and bathing individuals. Facilities tightened their visitation or eliminated them entirely during the start of the pandemic, limiting the hours the students were able to obtain. These hours are necessary to sit for the CNA Exam. The juniors resumed their clinical hours in May of 2021 but were forced to stop when they were three hours, or one day, short of the minimum requirement for the exam when the surge hit post-winter break. Luckily, they were able to get back in and surpassed the needed hours. “Despite the challenges our health career students have faced, they are excited to contribute and make a difference,” says Kylie Geikie, Health Careers teacher.
A week before the test, the testing company that typically administers the test for Tri-County students became unavailable. Finding and securing a new testing company was challenging, and then the students needed to change on a dime to the new testing structure. The written exam was shortened from two hours to one and a half hours. The practical portion, which measures knowledge of industry safety standards, infection control protocols, and critical thinking ability, used to be twenty minutes long for three skills would now be thirty to forty minutes long and require the students to pass five skills. In addition to the test changes, the new company administers tests via a computer whereas the old company used paper. “Our students have worked hard and shown great resilience. They adapted easily to the changes thrown at them and excelled. We are proud to work beside them and know they will do amazing things after graduation,” stated Geikie.
After passing their CNA Exams, the juniors can start their cooperative education. Four students have placements and started their positions on April 4th. Health Career students typically pursue employment in long-term care, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.