A Louisa County High School program is offering students interested in a nursing career a leg up in the field.
The high school’s certified nursing assistant (CNA) program offers students insight into the world of a nursing assistant and allows them to obtain their CNA certification, something many college nursing programs require.
“Colleges are going to see that we started at the bottom, instead of just thinking nursing is cool,” LCHS senior Stephanie Dymacek, who passed the class last fall, said.
Gwen Valiani, who has taught the course for the last six years, was a nurse before coming to teach the program.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I like being around the kids. They’re energetic and most are excited about pursuing a career in healthcare.”
The duties of a CNA cover a number of tasks from bathing and grooming patients, to assisting them with feeding and using the restroom. The students in the program learn how to perform these tasks and put their lessons into practice by doing clinical hours at different facilities, including the Louisa Health and Rehabilitation Center.
For some of the students, that’s the best part of class.
“A lot of people don’t expect the residents [in the nursing home] to be able to hold a conversation with you or to know what’s happening from day to day, but they can,” junior Riley Canning said. “They know what’s going on, and they’re actually really fun to hang out with.”
The residents feel the same way about the students.
“They’re doing their best and they have done a wonderful job in learning,” one resident said. “These are students worth having…If I could, I would give them an A.”
The high school program began in the early 1970s and has continued, producing not only nursing assistants, but many have gone on to become nurses. Some former students have even returned to work in Louisa County, at places like the Health and Rehab Center.
(Article by Joseph Haney)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s May 9, 2019 issue.