Imagine if going to work every day was more than a job, but an opportunity to bring a smile to someone’s face and give them comfort. That’s what it’s like to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
At Lutheran Senior Services (LSS), CNAs become like family to our residents. These caring individuals are important to the LSS mission of Older Adults Living Life to the Fullest (based on John 10:10). CNAs live out our Christian Core Values every day through their service. Because CNAs work so closely with our residents, it takes generous people to fill these roles and LSS is committed to finding them and helping them reach their goals too.
“You have to have a heart for it,” says Diane, a CNA at LSS. “I’ve had a lot of jobs, this is my calling.”
Diane came to Mason Pointe, an LSS community in Town and Country, Missouri, when the Sisters of the Good Shepherd moved in. LSS gave her the opportunity to become a CNA through the Nursing Assistant in Training (NAT) program, which pays an hourly wage plus costs associated with schooling to receive CNA certification.
“It’s a good thing that LSS offers,” adds Diane. “I never had a job that gives you anything like this. LSS paid for our school and paid us. If I wanted to do this before I’d have to go to school in the evenings or weekends.”
The classroom instruction and clinical training are done through the CNA Training Academy, which is supported by LSS and the Senior Care Network. Diane and nine other CNAs graduated in the March 2019 class. The academy isn’t easy. It’s a fast-paced, intense course led by Rhonda McKenize, RN, who has been teaching CNAs since 2009 and in her current position at the CNA Academy since 2015.
“It was stressful, but Mrs. McKenize is good,” adds Mickayla, a CNA at Laclede Groves, an LSS Life Plan Community in St. Louis. “We had to move fast. Mrs. McKenize believed in us and that really helped.”
The class learns to work together and instructors prepare them for tests through quizzes and guidance in studying.
“We didn’t know sometimes if we were going to make it, we had to work as a team,” says Grace, a graduate of the academy and now a CNA at Mason Pointe, who started each class with a group prayer. “It feels great to be a CNA. The program was a good experience.”
With a balanced mix of classroom learning and on-hands training, CNAs start their positions at an LSS community ready to work with residents.
“My trainer helped me to do everything. The training was hands-on, that’s how I learn best,” says Tae, another CNA at Laclede Groves. “I like the work.”
For many CNAs, this is just the first step in their careers in healthcare. After working as a CNA, LSS employees can receive tuition assistance toward earning their Certified Medication Technician and even nursing degrees. Pursuing further education in healthcare is already on the minds of several of these new CNAs.
If starting a position where you can make difference and grow in a career path sounds interesting to you and if you’d like to have the support of an organization and a job when you complete training, then you could be Nursing Assistant in Training material! Visit the LSS Job Opportunities page to learn more.