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Council Bluffs Schools' nurse aide students are making the grade

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Some of the community’s future health care workers are starting their training in Council Bluffs Community School District’s certified nurse aide program.

The one-semester course, part of the school district’s Certificate Advancement Program, includes 30 hours of classroom learning, 15 hours of lab training and 30 hours of clinical experience, according to instructor Tiffany Parrott. It provides three hours of college credit through Iowa Western Community College, training in 30 skills needed by CNAs and preparation for a state certification exam. Students -- usually seniors -- also have to keep up with their classes at Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson High School.

“It’s a great opportunity for students,” Parrott said.

The course is in its third year at Iowa Western after being held for at least four years at the Tucker College & Career Center, Parrott said. Students use a lab at Iowa Western equipped by the school district.

“Council Bluffs has been good about getting us this simulation equipment so when we do things in the lab it’s similar to what we do in clinicals,” she said.

For the state exam, students must complete 100 questions and a hands-on demonstration of CNA skills. An Iowa Western instructor evaluates their skills. Last fall, 12 students completed the course. All 12 passed the state exam.

“We’re 12 for 12,” Parrott said.

Parrott said high expectations help students excel in the class.

“It’s good to see students rise to the challenge,” she said. “They were just really prepared. I think the state test is reaffirming that what we do in class and in clinicals prepare them to enter the field.”

Among those who took the class last fall and passed the test were Thomas Jefferson senior Erin Exley and Abraham Lincoln senior Abby Evers.

“I wanted to go to nursing school, and I know I can take this class to get some credit early,” Exley said.

Said Evers, “I know that I want to be a nurse, so when I knew I could get credit and start early, I knew it was a great opportunity.”

They trained on 30 different skills in the class and got their clinical experience at Northcrest Living Center in Council Bluffs.

“It was a lot of fun,” Exley said, “because it was during COVID so families couldn’t come -- so you were their families.”

“I really liked it,” Evers said. “You see different things every day.”

She liked doing the things they practiced in the lab on real people and just visiting with the residents.

“It makes you realize it’s not all for nothing,” Exley said.

Said Parrott, “(Residents) loved having the students there.”

Exley plans to enroll at Nebraska Methodist College this fall and hopes to work in a pediatrics clinic or neonatal unit.

Evers plans to enroll at Wayne State and hopes to work in a labor and delivery unit.

Parrott is in her seventh year working for Council Bluffs Community Schools. She worked as a full-time nurse for 11 years before joining the school district’s team. She still works at a local hospital part time -- just because she enjoys it.


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