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Nursing assistant students get practical skills through hybrid class

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:19 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 8:24 AM EDT
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VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - Health care workers are needed now more than ever and that has kept one training class for nurses continuing in ways organizers never anticipated.

“We knew we had to do something completely different," said Cheryl Connor, who helped create Vermont MedED, which offers programs to students ready to become certified nursing assistants.

Because of COVID-19, they switched to a hybrid model and offer Zoom classes followed by an in-person skills “jamboree,” where students get to practice 20 practical skills needed in a nursing setting.

“This is really where they learn the skills. It’s so much fun, they really enjoy it. They finally get to do what they are trained to do and they love it," said Connor.

With a lot of interest in the program, they know they have to equip students with more than just textbook knowledge.

“You can’t learn how to be a nurse’s assistant without practical knowledge," said Marsha Arend, the group’s co-director.

Katy Stockbridge, an instructor and former student with Vermont MedED, says they have a balanced approach to ensure students are getting the most out of what they signed up for.

“Like the balance of any education program is you want to have it challenging enough so that they almost get frustrated. So, what I think we manage to do is we have a lot of good humor, we have a lot of great anecdotes, a lot of great stories to make the information a lot more accessible," Stockbridge said.

The skills jamboree is designed to engage students in what they were learning in Zoom courses three days a week. They apply 20 skills such as the gait belt, proper lifting, vital signs and even proper handwashing. All testable skills on the Vermont Licensed Nursing Assistant Examination, but more critically, skills needed in the field.

“We have reinvented our class in order to accommodate the fact that we really need to do that training, but we have mobilized some tools to do that," said Arend.

Arend says with more than 25% of their students going on to pursue higher certification than a nursing assistant, including doctoral certifications, they are all about fostering the start.

“When they go through this program we are really going to light the fire and they are going to believe they are going to have the gas in the tank to go ahead and do other things," said Arend.

Officials say anyone can be a part of the program regardless of education or skill level.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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