CNA candidates find high touch, high tech balance

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

LEARNING TO CARE FOR OTHERS — are these Lake Region Vocational Center certified nursing assistant students, back, from left: Cassidy Decker, Ashley Williams, Instructor Mrs. Kathiann Shorey, R.N., Nikki Shivers and Emma Flaherty. Front, from left: Jennifer Woods, Melissa Foster, Danielle Keller, Kayla Eastman and Andrea Comeau. (Ackley Photo)

A few years ago, anyone in the Lake Region who wanted to become a certified nursing assistant had to travel to Portland or Lewiston, after they graduated from their local high school.

Today, students from Fryeburg Academy, Lake Region High School, Sacopee Valley High School and home schooled students — all have the opportunity to enroll in the Lake Region Vocational Center's certified nursing assistant program — with many finding employment as soon as they graduate.

However, certified nursing assistant program instructor Kathiann Shorey. R.N., said that, while technical nursing skills can be taught, compassion cannot — it comes from the heart.

"I call it High Touch versus High Tech," Mrs. Shorey said. "A good nurse has to be able to find a balance between the two."

As National Nurses' Week was being celebrated from May 6 through 12, the LRVC certified nursing assistant students were hard at work diligently studying for their CNA state board exams which they took yesterday, May 16.

Students in the LRVC's certified nursing assistant program spend the first part of the fully accredited class learning from books and classroom instruction. Later on, they practice the medical skills they have learned about on mannequins, as well as each other. It is only after those areas of instruction are completed that they undertake "on-the-job" training at Bridgton Hospital and area health care centers.

Mrs. Shorey pointed out that it is often the high technology factor that draws a student to the field of nursing. However, she said, "Competence and caring is what makes a good medical professional."

Asked recently why they wanted to become a CNA and what they think their career path will be after that — this year's LRVC certified nursing assistant students were also asked to speak about their "passion" and how that will direct their career choice in the future.

Here is what they said:

SHOWING A NEW MOTHER — how to breastfeed her baby properly are Ashley Williams (at left) and Jennifer Woods. (Ackley Photo)

Andrea Comeau — Senior — Home School Student — My passion is to love, encourage and care for my patients and residents. Ever since I read about Florence Nightingale caring for the wounded soldiers by bringing them comfort and a gentle touch, I have wanted to do the same thing. I have wanted to serve others and to bring a smile on dreary days. I love to encourage people, whether it's by sitting next to them and holding their hand, listening to their fears, or by helping out with simple needs. This is why I am a Certified Nursing Assistant. In the coming years, I am going to study to become a Registered Nurse. I want to move forward in the health career, so that I can learn more to help those around me. With each step forward, I will be able to give more specific and holistic care to my patients and residents. I feel that the more I know the more I can give.

Taking the Nurse's Aide course in high school was an extreme blessing. If it had not been for the LRVC (Lake Region Vocation Center) I don't know that I would have been able to take the Nurse's Aide course at all or for a very long time due to costs related to taking the course as an adult. Because I was able to take the class in high school, I now have a head start and a step up to fulfilling my passion. It is a job I have desired and dreamed about and this course has made that dream possible.
Jennifer Woods — Senior — Lake Region High School — I wanted to be a CNA because it is a good starting point for what I truly want to do. I am so glad I took this course; it gives me a taste of what nursing is like instead of just jumping into it when college starts. We take our exam May 16th. After I pass my exam I plan on putting an application in to a nursing home and hopefully getting a job so I can start using my CNA. From there, I am going to the University of New England studying nursing. Along with I will be working as a CNA which will help my studies. I plan on going back to school after that and becoming a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

Nicole Shivers — Senior — Fryeburg Academy — I applied to the Lake Region Vocational Center CNA program because I knew it would be a great way to begin my career in nursing. I have always wanted to be in the medical fields and this class introduces all of the possibilities from Dental to Physical Therapy. In the fall, I will be attending SMCC for nursing where I will get my associate's degree, then transfer and major in Obstetrics. My passion is the mother-baby connection. It is what I am most interested in, and I know it is what I am going to pursue.

Emma Flaherty — Senior — Fryeburg Academy — I decided to take the CNA course now as a senior because I wanted to get my feet wet to see if I actually want to be a nurse and if this field is for me. The CNA was a great course for me to take, just in case I feel like Nursing isn’t my thing, because I still can go and help people.

After this I will be heading up to Fort Kent going "undecided" but I am going to change into the nursing program to study psychiatric nursing.

My passion is to become a psychiatric nurse, because I just love the way the brain functions and how, when the wiring goes wrong, you could become a different person.

Kayla Eastman — Junior — Fryeburg Academy — I started this program looking for an opportunity to get my feet in the door. CNA seemed like a good starting point to start out my career in the medical field. This program was a free way to get my CNA license and it was close to home. It is very beneficial and it gives you the knowledge you need.

If I decide to further my career in the medical field, I want to be an X-ray technician. This course gave me the people skills you need everyday and the compassion for caring for other people. The best part about being a CNA is you learn more about others and even yourself.

Cassidy Decker — Senior — Sacopee Valley High School — Why did I choose to become a CNA? I wanted to because I want to be a nurse! I love helping people, knowing that I contributed to helping someone get better in anything just gives me great joy!

What’s next? I plan on hopefully go on to college and pursue my nursing degree and hopefully work with children.

Danielle Keller  — Senior — Lake Region High School — Why CNA now? I wanted to be a nurse, ever since I was in the 8th grade. Once I got into the high school and heard about the voc center, I’ve always wanted to get into the health occupations program. My junior year I applied to get into the voc center for my senior year and I got in. Now, I only have a few more days until my final state board exam.

What next? I want to continue my work as a CNA and eventually work my way up to an RN and maybe an OR Nurse.

Passion? My passion is to take care of people and to love them. I want to be a nurse because that gives me the perfect opportunity to show people who I truly am.

Ashley Williams — Junior — Sacopee Valley High School — I wanted to be a CNA because it was a great stepping-stone into the medical field.

Being a CNA has showed me all the wonderful possibilities! I know this class will help me get into a good college and I am proud I took it.

For the next step, I want to go to college and get my bachelor’s degree. I want to become an RN, and then work in Oncology, or in Pediatrics.

My passion is helping people, so I truly believe I am in the right career. It makes me happy when I can make someone’s day, or make someone feel better. Seeing a smile on someone’s face, makes all the hard work we do worth it.

Becky Mowatt — Junior — Lake Region High School — Why CNA? I chose to take the CNA program at Lake Region Vocational Center because I wanted a place to start my medical career. Knowing I could take the state board and get my certification was a big benefit.

What next? After I complete high school, I plan to attend a four-year college, hopefully at St. Joseph's College, to get my R.N. Later, in the future, I may continue onto getting a doctorate degree.

Passion? Looking back at all the clinical sites that I have worked at, I have found my passion in pediatrics and also oncology. Infants and small children are fun to work with and they kept me busy! I may continue my love for pediatrics by getting my OB-GYN (certification). Oncology is always changing and I love learning about cancer and how I can pursue a career in that field. It’s a career that I could also see myself doing.

Melissa Foster — Junior — Fryeburg Academy — I took this class in high school because it was a free class that usually takes $800-$900 and it is a good program to do and let's you learn about the job before you pay all that money and not like it.

I want to go on to become a pediatric nurse or something to do with kids. I will have to go to college and have sent my S.A.T. scores to four colleges in Maine.

I love helping people and want to help people get better and be comfortable. I love playing with kids. I have experience with children with disabilities. I lived with a three-year-old boy who had a rare stomach cancer at the age of four months. He can walk with a walker and says minimum words, but he signs better than anyone I know. He teaches you patience and to take your time and you will get better at what you do.

I chose to become a CNA because my aunt was a CNA when she was my age and she did it for many years. She taught me a lot through fixing me up when I would get hurt. I was accident-prone so had a lot of injuries that she would fix. I have a caring and kind personality that helps when you need to cheer up patients.

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