People often say that the best way to learn is by doing. Right now, some high school students in Rockville, Maryland are trying that idea. They are studying nursing, including training in a real medical environment.
The students are taking part in a certified nursing assistant, or CNA program. It will prepare them to take and pass certification exams and begin a career in health care.
Linda Hall is a professor of nursing at Montgomery County College. This is the third year she has led the CNA program. The course work takes place after school, four days a week. Students spend 88 hours in the classroom and train in the field for 60 hours. Hall says that they learn at least 20 skills that nursing assistants depend on daily.
"…such as brushing teeth, giving a bath, putting someone on a bedpan, feeding someone. All of those skills are part of the 20 skills that they need to know before they can graduate. There is also a passing grade of 80. They can't even take the final exam if their average grade is not 80 or above."
She says completing the program and passing the CNA exam provides these students a possible future career.
"When the class is completed and the grades are in, they get a license from the state of Maryland to be a certified nursing assistant. Then, they prep for the geriatric nursing assistant license, which is an extra step up for them."
Hands on nursing
The students practice everything on each other: talking to a patient, taking a pulse; checking blood pressure. Then, they move on to the second part of their training: meeting real patients to help.
The CNA training program takes place inside Ingleside at King Farm, a retirement community that includes assisted-living. Student Natalia Estrada Aguirre says she enjoyed getting to know the residents better as she helped them.
“I wasn’t really sure, you know. I thought they were all fragile and you got to be very careful with them, but honestly, they love it when you help them, they love when you give them a hand because they always need it. So I learned more to connect with them and interact with them in a better way. I think you need to be very patient, very driven."
John Holly is Ingleside's health care administrator. He says residents welcome the young people because they are lively. He says residents “enjoy the additional attention that they get because there are more students here.”
Young people help old people
The CNA training program was founded by neurologist William Leahy, who serves on Ingleside's board of directors.
John Holly says that Leahy cares about people. "And so the vision is simply to provide individuals an opportunity and to provide for the best care that people can receive."
Aguirre praises the training program as “priceless.”
"Ever since I've been little I've been wanting to do something in nursing and helping others, because I really love doing that. So, this is kind of like a first-hand experience on my nursing and helping other people out.”
Her classmate, 17-year-old Kelli Wilson, wants to become a doctor. Wilson says she joined the CNA program to learn more about the health care profession.
"I think one of the most important things I've learned is about one-patient care, like how to treat patients. Even if I want to take it further not just as a nurse, as a doctor, it's always important to keep your patients and their mental, emotional and physical body in one and make sure that you're treating them respectfully and well."
The program appears to help everyone it touches: The Ingleside residents, the students, and the health care system as a whole.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Faiza Elmasry wrote this story for VOA news. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
nursing - n. the job of taking care of people who are sick, injured, or old
certify – v. to say officially that something or someone has met certain standards or requirements
brush - v. to clean or smooth (something) with a brush
bedpan - n. a shallow pan used as a toilet by a person who is too ill to get out of bed
license - n. an official document or card that gives you permission to do, use, or have something
geriatric - adj. of or relating to the process of growing old and the medical care of old people
assisted-living - n. a system that provides a place to live and medical care for people (such as elderly or disabled people) who need help with daily activities
fragile - adj. easily broken or damaged
interact - v. to talk or do things with other people
pulse - n. the regular movement of blood through your body that is caused by the beating of your heart and that can be felt by touching certain parts of your body
Are there any training program like this in high schools near you? Write to us in the Comments Section.