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Nurse Assistant Training Program Emphasizes the Art of Caregiving

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"Once we did clinicals, I realized I had truly found my vocation and passion."

For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has prepared individuals for work in the nursing field. The Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) program is designed to help students learn practical skills and academics needed to be successfully employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities and home healthcare settings.

Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) help patients with daily activities they may have trouble doing on their own, such as getting dressed or bathing. Oftentimes, these professionals develop personal relationships with patients and their families, and act as a liaison between them and other medical professionals.

Nick Fischer, Florida NAT program manager, emphasizes the importance of certified nurse assistants in the medical world.

“I am a firm believer that certified nurse assistants are on the front line of health care,” said Fischer. “They are the ones making the most rounds with patients, and having those relationships allows them to report problems much faster.”

The Red Cross NAT curriculum places a high emphasis on the “art of caregiving” and meets or exceeds state standards. The program immerses students in simulations, lectures, online learning and laboratory training. After students learn procedural skills like taking vital signs or positioning patients, they practice in the onsite training center equipped with hospital beds and medical equipment.

“Retention comes from application,” said Fischer. “We make it as real as possible and tailor our program to all different learning styles.”

In addition to learning critical medical skills, students also focus on soft skills, such as communication and respect. This well-rounded curriculum prepared Caroline Jensen for her career in healthcare, and she is now employed full time at Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Nursing and Rehab Center.

“I have received very good feedback from the staff and families, and feel I was well prepared for my position,” said Jensen. “After this, I would like to become a registered nurse. I am proud that I have a wonderful career ahead of me.”

Becoming a certified nurse assistant is often the first step in a healthcare career. After working for more than 20 years in the corporate world, Adrienne Yearby decided to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She attended the NAT program at the Jacksonville Training Center to jump start her new career.

“I really enjoyed the clinical experience this program provided,” said Yearby. “It gave me exposure and allowed me to practice skills I was learning along the way.”

A clinical rotation is the final training activity before graduation. Students are paired with a current CNA who acts as a mentor at a local medical facility. Each student does rounds at the facility with a high degree of autonomy – something they will be doing every day in the professional world. This important piece sets the program apart from others.

“Once we did clinicals, I realized I had truly found my vocation and passion,” said Jensen. “Everything changed for me. It gave me new confidence.”

To ensure the program’s quality is upheld, instructors are caring and professional nurses with a passion for helping students succeed.

“I look for a true genuine investment in both students and the Red Cross,” said Fischer. “A common theme among instructors is that they are here for more than a job. They are changing people’s lives and extending the legacy of the Red Cross.”

That enthusiasm has generated rave reviews from students. In fact, the Florida NAT program led the country in highest student satisfaction rates for the last year. Maddie Rihl from the Jacksonville Training Center shares this sentiment.

“When I decided to become a CNA to prepare for nursing school, I looked to the Red Cross because I heard that it was the best program,” said Rihl. “I’m so glad I chose them. I found the program to be excellent and would be happy to recommend this program to others.”

The Red Cross Florida NAT program offers training centers in Jacksonville, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. To learn more, email or call 727-209-3560.