nurse checking elderly woman's blood pressure

Diana Buchanan headshot


After earning more than a decade of experience in insurance, Diana Buchanan ended her time in the field when her mother began hospice care. After her mother passed away eight months ago, Diana and her husband had a life-changing conversation. Their discussion made Diana realize that she wanted to give back to others like her mother’s nurses didShe decided to honor her mom and start a career in healthcare, and she recently began a job at Siskin Hospital as a CNA! 


Marah: How did you find out about UTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant course?

Diana: I spoke to Hospice of Chattanooga (who took care of my mom) and asked them how to get my foot into the “healthcare door.” As someone with virtually no medical experience, they suggested that I obtain my CNA license. A nurse I used to house sit for knew I was searching for a course to take and happened to stumble upon an article about UTC’s new CNA course. I read the article, felt good about what UTC was offering, and signed up! 


M: What did you enjoy most about the CNA course? 

D: Initially, I was nervous about the course because I hadn’t been in school for 20 years. However, it ended up being a great experience, and I enjoyed being able to learn new things and meet new people. The smaller course size was great because it allowed the other students and I to create a wonderful sense of camaraderie among us. We all had such different backgrounds but clicked immediately. 


M: What was the clinical externship at Siskin like? Did you feel like you received hands-on experience to prepare you for the field despite COVID? 

D: The first day of the externship was especially emotional for me because I kept thinking about my mom. There was a resident who wore purple satin pajamas, and I broke down instantly when we left because that’s what my mom was buried in. To me, it was a sign that I made the right decision to honor her with my CNA work. 

As a whole, the externship experience was more personal than I expected. The staff was welcoming and made the hospital feel like home. They made sure to include us as part of the team, and I earned a lot of experience. For the first time in the 20 plus years I have been working, I really felt like I was doing what I was created to do. 


M: What advice would you give to someone wanting to take the CNA course, particularly those who don’t have previous healthcare experience? 

D: Just do it. As corny as it may sound, I keep looking at the experience of starting a new career as one my heart led me to. Navigating a new aspect of life can be scary because it requires big changes, but the ability to help others is the best feeling in the world. Take the leap! 


M: How did you prepare for the CNA state licensing exams? 

D: I did have a lot of test anxiety—you know, doing that thing where I aced tests in class and then thought I would bomb the licensure exams. Of course, we were extremely prepared for the tests when the time came to take them. Tracy made sure that we were ready. For example, blood pressure was the skill that freaked me out the most. She let me come in after class hours and practice more. Also, I constantly looked through my notes, and there are videos on the state testing site that will help with preparation and review. I didn’t want to overstudy, so I would set a time limit at night and freshen up every couple of days. 


M: Do you have anything else you would like to share about the CNA course or regarding your CNA experience? 

D: Becoming a CNA has been the best experience ever. I have a great sense of pride in what I do. Everyone’s story is different, and everyone gets into healthcare for different reasons, but I hope my story inspires others to give it a shot. I don’t necessarily want to be a CNA forever, but becoming one has enabled me to get my foot in the door and begin helping others. I am thankful I had the opportunity to take UTC’s course! 


Marah Whitaker headshot

Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.

Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.