By PAIGE HOLLOWAY
Rutherford County Schools
Several Rutherford County students have recently worked to earn essential skills during a month-long Certified Nursing Assistant class.
Coming from Central Magnet, LaVergne, Siegel, and Stewarts Creek high schools, these students took the opportunity to begin their experiential learning before they begin college or their careers. Consisting of recent graduates or rising seniors, this program allowed students to get a glimpse into what their future in the medical field may look like.
When the students were asked why they wanted to spend a month working through this certification program, many responded that it helped them begin to pursue their future career or even decide if a career is medicine was the right decision for them.
“The preparation the students have to dedicate to taking and passing the certification prepares them for the rigors of post-secondary education, especially in the healthcare degrees,” said Oakland teacher Suzanne Morrow.
While this course does offer students preparation for continuing their education in healthcare, these certifications also allow them to immediately move into the medical field as well.
“Students who have earned credentials are currently working throughout Rutherford County in a wide variety of medical practices; Cardiology, Pediatrics, Plastic Surgery, and the MMC walk-in,” Morrow said.
Among her students in the program, Morrow says two stood out: Cason Buehler and Elizabeth Whittenburg. Each functioned as a leader throughout the course, doing extra clinical hours and coordinating registration for the testing, with Elizabeth even accepting a position at a local medical clinic upon receiving her certification.
Amidst the current pandemic, the student clinical experience and lab time was cut short, but through the help of Applied Education Systems, each student was able to receive free curriculum that allowed them to finish their certifications.
While the COVID-19 crisis did affect the students being able to have the traditional pinning and graduation ceremony, Stewart’s Creek was able to hold their own smaller graduation upon the students completion of the program.
When asked why this program was important for her to participate in, Morrow responded, “Medical assistants are a high-demand occupation with competitive wages and give excellent experience for the students while advancing their education.”
While it has been more difficult this year than in the past, the leaders believe it is beneficial for those students involved and intend to keep these programs available in coming years.
“We are always pushing for teachers to continue or expand the offerings for certifications because we know getting an early start on meeting post-secondary college and career goals will set students up for success,” said Essence Brisco with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.