Two young nurses standing beside a dummy in bed

Blue Ridge Community College provides free Nursing Assistant course

By Bailey Varley

Students involved in the Career and College Promise (CCP) program through Blue Ridge Community College are back to work for their second semester. These students are considered dual enrolled as they are earning both high school and college credentials simultaneously.

Blue Ridge offers a variety of courses to eligible high school students, including American Sign Language (ASL), general psychology, welding and automotive.

A program that has proven popular amongst the high school population is Nurse Aide I. There is a full roster this semester with many students eager to gain knowledge and experience in nursing.

Nurse Aide I curriculum, which complies with the standard approved by the State Board of Community Colleges, prepares individuals to work under the supervision of licensed nursing professionals in performing nursing care and services for persons of all ages.

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) helps patients with activities of daily living and other health care needs and is done under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN.) CNAs are also known as a nursing assistant, a nurse aide or patient care assistant (PCA).

Nurse Aide I is a great introduction to health care and gives students an opportunity to jump into the health care profession, while gaining real world experience. Earning a CNA certification is a great way for students to find out if they enjoy working with patients or if there is a better fit within other health care professions.

Cassidee Cali, current CCP student and Brevard High School senior, is a currently enrolled student.

Cali said, “I am really excited to be in the nurse aide program. I plan to pursue a nursing degree in college and most of the places that I have applied to require that students have their CNA as part of their application process to the nursing school.”

Some nurse aide students may use their knowledge and credentials as a CNA to further their career, such as becoming a registered nurse or eventually attending medical school. Other students may be interested as a way to determine their next step in the health care field.

Cali emphasized how important it is “to have the opportunity to take the class in high school so that I don’t have to try to work it in once I begin my degree program. It will also allow me to have some direct health care experience. Some colleges require that students have direct patient care experience before applying to their nursing school.”

Nurse aide students are given classroom and clinical guidelines, which include required dress (scrubs and closed-toe shoes), required immunizations prior to the first day of class, background checks and drug testing. These expectations and guidelines allow for high school students to become familiar with health care responsibilities and regulations they will need when joining the profession.

During the course, students also earn CPR certification, which is beneficial no matter which career path students take.

Dual enrollment through Blue Ridge gives students a chance to see what certain career pathways entail, firsthand. Gaining experience while still in high school is beneficial to students as it takes away pressure and allows students to have a longer timeline for planning and exploring which career is best for them.

Another benefit to taking college courses through Blue Ridge is the amount of money that students can save; CCP is tuition free and students are only responsible for classroom fees, including books and supplies.

(Bailey Varley serves as the N.C. Career Coach for Transylvania County Schools where she advises students on opportunities available to eligible high school students through Blue Ridge’s Career and College Promise (CCP) Program. For more information on CCP, visit http://www.blueridge.edu or contact Varley at b_varley@blueridge.edu.)