Woodland’s CNA Program Preparing Future Nurses

Woodland has created a new way for students to receive their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license during school.  They have partnered with Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) preparing students for the medical field. The CNA program also follows the health-science pathway, meaning that with the successful completion of the courses, students can graduate with a health science section on their diploma. The course is open to all juniors and seniors who are thinking about eventually going into the medical field. Since the class takes up two blocks, students earn two credits for taking it.

During the current 2020-2021 school year, the course takes up both the B1 and B2 blocks. Amber Penland, CNA course instructor, is also an instructor at the Naugatuck Valley College, so she works only the two blocks the CNA course is taught. Even though this is technically a course that is taught at a college, the class is completely free to students. 

“The only thing that you would need to pay for the course is scrubs,” Penland said. “All the boards, exams, and the competency test at the end is free to Woodland students. Anyone outside of Woodland taking the exams would have to pay a fee.” 

Penland plans on teaching the students anatomy and physiology, how to take care of patients and the rights that both the nurses and the patients have, and learning basic activities of daily living (ADL). It is important for students to get real CNA experience. 

 CNAs take patient vital signs, blood pressure, pulse temperature, and measurements (weight and height), giving the patients showers, cleaning up wounds, helping patients use the restroom, get dressed, eat, talking with them daily to report on their symptoms, and helping position the patients correctly. 

“Obtaining your CNA license before you leave high school is the starting foundation of a medical career,” said Penland. “Because it’s free, students can take this course to decide whether or not they want to pursue a medical career. Some students take this class thinking they want to go into the medical field and realize later on that the medical field isn’t for them.” 

This way students can have a better understanding of whether or not they want to pursue a medical career without wasting all their money in college. You can also just take the class to earn credits and learn more about the position; the competency exam at the end to get your CNA certification is optional.

This year, students were disappointed the best experience of the class was clinicals. This would be a lot of hands on experience in the real medical field. Due to COVID, students weren’t able to get the in-person experience. Many CNAs work in hospitals. Most of the CNAs in a hospital would work with patients who were older, in rehabilitation facilities, with young children, or for any type of sick patient who couldn’t care for themselves. Clinicals could possibly be held in a hospital or a rehabilitation center. Here, CNA students would’ve able to help older patients or patients who have disabilities. Penland hopes that students next year can participate in clinicals. 

“The course is still going over all of the information needed for the test, but we were disappointed when we learned we were unable to do clinicals this year because clinicals are a big part of the course.” 

In order to become a CNA in the state of Connecticut, you have to complete 100 minimum training hours, pass the competency exam, and submit a CNA program within 24 months of the application approval; However, this year, students are able to get their license without all the clinical hours they needed prior to COVID. 

The competency exam is what students will have to take in order to get their CNA license. This exam is free to the students at Woodland. On the test, there are two parts which are the written-oral portion and the clinical skills. The written-oral part of the test covers most of the information you learned during the class like the jobs of a CNA, anatomy of a patient, etc. Clinical skills can be done by another nurse, and they will ask students to demonstrate specific skills. 

“The CNA license lasts two years, so two years after the test is taken, your license will need to be renewed. As long as you are still getting clinical hours, it will be easily renewed.”

If you don’t renew the certification before the deadline, you will have to retake the class and exam, and this time it will cost money. It doesn’t cost anything to renew your license. If after two years, you want your license removed you would need to continue working the CNA employment hours. 

Overall, this course at Woodland will help a lot of students who are looking to eventually go into the medical field or for students who are trying to figure out what they want to pursue. It is a time consuming class, but provides knowledge and experience that students will carry with them throughout their working lives.