New CNA class allows high school students early medical training

By Lindsay Devereux | A&E Editor

For students hoping to pursue a medical career, Marshfield High School is now providing an elective to help them achieve their goals.

This semester, in association with Southwestern Oregon Community College, MHS is providing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) elective to allow students to become more involved in the program early. The CNA program is a collegiate level course designed to prepare students for a potential career in nursing. There are many variations on the course; the entry level course being offered at MHS is called CNA1.

Ellen Riley, a local registered nurse at Bay Clinic, is teaching the course at MHS.

“Once a student earns their CNA1, they have the opportunity to continue and become a CNA2 and specialize in Dementia Care, Restorative Care or Acute Care,” Riley said.

Through the course, students participate in hands-on training while working towards their CNA license. Students are required to do an internship at a local facility before acquiring an actual paying job, but according to Coos Bay Superintendent Dawn Granger, it is a great program for students considering a medical career.

“CNAs make a decent wage and are very much needed in the medical field and in our area as well,” Granger said.

After a six-month internship, the CNA1 may take additional programs to further enhance their abilities. For example, CNA1s must take the Medication Aide Program to administer oral medications. CNA students also have to pass the Oregon State Board of Nursing CNA1 written and skill exam and must be at least 16 years of age.

“The purpose is to prepare our students for a career after high school,” Riley said.

Many students at MHS are currently participating in the elective, including senior Natasha Hill.

“It’s a really nice class and with it comes a lot of other benefits like a CPR license,” Hill said. “Doing the CNA course opens lots of options for other jobs that I’m interested in. I think it will really help me in the future.”

Riley has structured the program so students have someone to help them be successful in the course even with their busy schedules. The elective class not only prepares students for their CNA exam, but also teaches them basic nursing skills they would essentially learn in their first nursing class.

“It is truly Nursing 101,” Riley said. “It gives the students the opportunity to know if they want to continue in the health care field and offers them ready employment so they can pursue their career dreams. This program opens many doors for students’ other medical careers as well.”

Riley claims there will be more notice to students to learn about the program in the future.

“Any time a high school student can gain college credit in high school, it is a great thing to consider,” Riley said. “In the future, I hope we have more such partnerships to help our students get a head start on a competitive career or college degree.”