Certified Nursing Assistant Class Opens Career Opportunity

Certified Nursing Assistant Class Opens Career Opportunity
Shawnee Mission School District

Three Shawnee Mission seniors are enthusiastically recommending the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class. The class is a Signature Program in the Medical Science pathway taught by Roxanne Jones at the Center for Academic Achievement (CAA).

Kendall Toomay, a SM Northwest senior, gave up soccer to focus on Medical Science and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes during her senior year. Toomay tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) when she was a sophomore and the care she received was part of the reason she is pursuing a career in healthcare. Toomay passed the CNA course at the conclusion of the first semester and was then eligible to take the state exam, which she also passed.

“Roxanne set us up for success,” Toomay noted. Jones is currently teaching her fourth semester of CNA and enjoys providing this life-changing career path option to SMSD students. She helps students prepare in a variety of ways and after three semesters of teaching, Jones’s students have a 100 percent success rate for her students passing the state exam.

Jones takes her CNA students on tours at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) campus where they visit the floor for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) courses. She is quick to tell her students this can be them next year, passing their LPN. Toomay is planning on attending JCCC and completing her LPN.

Toomay enjoyed her time in clinicals at assisted living facilities, part of the requirement for CNA certification. The patients were not allowed to leave their rooms because of the pandemic. Toomay felt spending with the patients made their day a little better. One patient would always press his call button to visit with Toomay. “He really touched my heart and gave me a purpose, a sense that I am important,” Toomay shared.

Toomay recently was hired as a CNA by the facility where she completed her clinicals.

Anna Warman, SM South senior, has a goal is to be a Nurse Practitioner in the Emergency Room. She passed her exam and is looking forward to getting a CNA job over the summer. Warman shares this advice with younger students thinking about healthcare, “I would volunteer and shadow anywhere you can. I shadowed the Emergency Room at Research Medical Center before freshman year and it helped me fall in love with this profession even more,” Warman said.

Toomay found the medical information fascinating, but she likes to tell underclassmen about the professional skills she learned and connections she made during this class were equally important. She improved her presentation and communication skills and she expanded her network and connected with professionals in the healthcare field and students from other SMSD high schools.

“These classes really helped build my character,” Toomey noted.

Maria Kristic, SM North senior, is currently in the CNA class and is very grateful for the opportunity. She didn’t know about the CNA class until Kevin Stalsberg, Medical Science 1 instructor, encouraged her and gave her a clear understanding of the commitment and expectations.

Kristic who hated the sight of blood when she was younger, became more seriously interested in healthcare when her mother went into the hospital for a total knee replacement. “I wanted to be there for my mom, it was hard seeing someone I care about in so much pain, that’s when I decided, I want to help and make a difference,” Kristic said.

The pandemic influenced all three young women as they realized the importance of healthcare workers during this unique time.

“All the healthcare workers are heroes who are contributing and making a difference and now I can be a member of this important profession,” Kristic said.

When they successfully complete the CNA course in Shawnee Mission, students will have their CPR certification, CNA certification (to allow them to take the state test) and five credit hours from the JCCC.

Jones wants students to know that there are strict requirements that include not being tardy or missing any assignments. Being on time and completing your work are mandatory for this course as you prepare for work in the real world

To be eligible for the course, students must complete Human Anatomy & Physiology at their home high school and Medical Science 1 Signature Program at the CAA. If students want to pursue nursing following graduation, Jones is there to help them navigate enrollment and source for scholarships, grants, and if needed student loans.