By Crystal Burns
Thanks to a $50,000 grant and partnerships with Dyersburg State Community College (DSCC) and Trenton Health and Rehabilitation, Peabody High School is now offering its first CNA class.
The class allows students ages 16 and up the opportunity to earn their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification in one trimester. The class includes 40 hours of lecture and 60 hours of labs and clinical experience.
Trenton Special School District received the grant from the Carl D. Perkins fund, which promotes Career-Technical Education (CTE). Peabody used the money to purchase equipment needed for the classroom lab and supplies for students. All equipment is used to simulate real-life experiences that CNAs face in the workplace.
In writing the grant application, Trenton CTE Director June McCourt noted that there is a critical shortage of nurses in West Tennessee with more than 1,000 positions available.
“There is always a need for CNAs,” said Wally Vernon, administrator of Trenton Health and Rehabilitation, which is allowing the students to complete their clinical hours and offering them jobs upon certification. Vernon said CNAs typically earn $9 an hour starting pay.
“It’s really a win-win for the students,” said DSCC Dean of Nursing Amy Johnson, who oversees the class. She said that any nurse, no matter how far up the ladder he/she may climb, never gets always from the CNA basics.
Dyersburg State also gives extra points to CNA students to get into its nursing program, and TN Promise pays for up to five semesters, allowing students to complete their Registered Nurse certification for free.
Katie Burke, RN, a DSCC adjunct professor and director of Nursing at Trenton Health and Rehabilitation, is teaching the class. Next year, Peabody hopes to offer the course during two trimesters to give more students the opportunity to receive certification.
Burke was complimentary of Peabody health sciences teacher Gina Hudson and anatomy and physiology teacher Joseph Wuchter for preparing the first CNA class students with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.