After working as a long-term caregiver for over a year, Heather Morrison knew that she wanted to pursue a career focused on helping others. Before taking the full leap into healthcare, she decided to move forward with a small stepping stone—ensuring she was on the right route for her—by becoming a certified nursing assistant! Now, Heather is working at Parkridge as a CNA and using what she learned in UTC’s course in her role.
Marah: What did you enjoy most about UTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant course?
Heather: I loved the hands-on experience portion of the course; specifically, the clinical portion at Siskin Hospital. The Siskin nurses and CNAs were so helpful and encouraging to our cohort. I enjoyed building relationships with the patients and watching them get better throughout our time at Siskin!
M: What was your interaction like with the course instructor? What about with your peers?
H: I felt so lucky to be a part of my cohort. Our class had an incredibly close dynamic and has even kept up with one another after the course. UTC is a large school, but the class size made us feel connected. The instructor was also great; I appreciated that she was a nurse and could give us pointers on what we are learning as someone who has done it all firsthand. She was very helpful, and my classmates and I felt comfortable asking her questions.
M: What advice would you give to someone wanting to take the CNA course, particularly to those who don’t have previous healthcare experience?
H: Take the course! It’s only five weeks, and it’s not incredibly difficult. The clinical experience will allow you to see if the healthcare field is truly something you want to enter into. The class provides a very clear image of what being a CNA is like.
You’ll also learn important skills that are part of the non-healthcare aspect of the role, such as how to communicate with different people, how circumstances affect patients in various ways, etc. I cannot overemphasize that the course is a great starting point for anyone wanting to do anything remotely in healthcare.
M: How did you prepare for the CNA state licensing exams?
H: A couple of weeks before the exam date, I began reading through the skills packet nightly. Doing so takes a long time but is worth it. Obviously, you can’t physically do a lot of the hands-on skills by yourself, but just going through the packet and verbally saying how I would carry out the tasks helped a lot.
The night before the exam, a couple of friends and I met and went through our study materials together. We found it helpful to talk through and reread things as a group! The day of the exam was nerve-wracking, but the class prepared us well for what was to come. The written part was almost exactly like the mock exam we took in class.
M: What’s next now that you’re certified?
H: I have accepted a job at Parkridge and am working PRN as a CNA! I am also enrolled in an alternative medicine school and will be transferring into a nutrition program next year, with plans to become a dietician. As a CNA, I hope to become more acclimated to the healthcare field.
M: Is there anything else you would share about your CNA course experience?
H: I would share two final pieces of advice; first, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Two, ask questions. No question is dumb or silly. At Siskin, there were workers asking questions who had worked in healthcare for 30 years. It’s all part of the learning experience!
I would also say that the CNA experience has been so humbling for me in that I am able to do things for people with medical conditions who simply can’t do things for themselves. There are hard days, but I know I am better because of the lessons I am learning. I am so glad I decided to become a CNA.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.