Skilled to Work: Drake State to offer regional testing for certified nursing assistant certification

Jessica Ables, 22, practices testing vitals on a school mannequin at Drake State Community and Technical College.
Jessica Ables, 22, practices testing vitals on a school mannequin at Drake State Community and Technical College.

The CNA testing will start at Drake State in January 2020 and will be offered one Saturday a month.

Posted: Dec 12, 2019 11:01 PM

When considering what line of work to go into, 22-year-old Jessica Ables said it was an easy call to make.

"When I was really young, my dad was in a car accident, a motorcycle accident. And he was at the rehabilitation center that I used to work at – twice actually. He had two separate wrecks," said Ables. "So that was what kind of really inspired me to be a CNA and be a nurse."

Ables is currently working her way toward an associates degree as a registered nurse at Drake State Community and Technical College. She spent the past five years working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

According to the 2019 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, the number four reason for leaving the heath care industry was retirement.

"In fact, tens of thousands of them are reaching retirement age just about every day and that’s something that you see in Huntsville that’s growing," said Dr. Alice Raymond, Director of Innovation and Program Success at Drake State.

Dr. Raymond said one of the ways Drake State is working to combat the turnover is by becoming a regional center to offer CNA certification.

"In the theory testing area, we can test up to 25 students and in the labs, we can test up to six students at a time. So our testing days will be Saturdays. So on a Saturday, we can easily go through 30 people," said Dr. Raymond.

The testing program will come online in January 2020. Dr. Raymond said without them, students would have to travel as far away as Gadsden State Community College and Talladega College for the test.

She said becoming a CNA is also a good way to enter into the health care industry.

"The nursing assistant program is like a stepping stone to something bigger... once you get your feet wet, as a CNA, at that point they will know: this is for me or this is not for me," said Dr. Raymond.

Ables added that while being a CNA is certainly a challenging profession, it allows people to interact with others in a unique way.

"I've had patients that were roadies for like country music stars. I've had patients who were spies in the war. I've had some interesting back stories for sure. So getting to know that and learn the life that they lived is pretty cool," said Ables.

To learn more about the CNA program at Drake State, click here.

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