By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Since completing a certified nursing assistant (CNA) course at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School this past winter, two students have been putting their skills to good use at Good Samaritan Society in Howard Lake.
“I loved it right from the start,” said Kaitlyn Decker, daughter of Liz and Greg Decker of Waverly.
Fellow CNA Jenna Koosman, daughter of Dean and Christine Koosman of Howard Lake, felt the same way.
“Working with people is something that’s just natural for me,” Koosman said.
Koosman and Decker were two of nine students to take HLWW’s first semester-long CNA course, in partnership with Ridgewater College and Good Samaritan Society. (A story about the course was in the Jan. 23 edition of the Herald Journal.)
“I would recommend the class to anyone who likes caring for people,” Decker said. “If someone is deciding if they want to go into the medical field or not, it opens your eyes to a lot of things.”
Ridgewater hired Jessica Schauer, an RN at Good Samaritan Society, to teach the course, and Good Samaritan supplied beds and curtain dividers to simulate a nursing home environment.
“Our teacher made it an awesome experience,” Koosman said.
As for the job of a CNA, Koosman said it involves helping residents with daily living tasks, such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or eating dinner.
“If something’s wrong, we report it to the nurses,” she said. “We’re like their little helpers.”
Koosman and Decker both said it’s easy to get attached to the people they care for.
“It’s amazing how fast you develop relationships not only with coworkers, but with the residents as well,” Decker said.
She added that she likes the atmosphere of Good Samaritan, and appreciates that it is faith-based. This gives her the opportunity to pray with residents, sing Christian songs with them, and give them encouragement if they are having a rough day.
Decker is working part-time as a CNA this summer, and plans to continue into the school year. Her hours will be more limited then, though, as she’s also involved in volleyball, softball, student council, National Honor Society, and FFA.
Decker said her favorite shift is the morning one, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“I love getting up early,” she said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Koosman said she doesn’t mind the later shifts.
“I have done four overnights,” she said.
Koosman, who recently graduated from HLWW, plans to attend St. Cloud Technical College this fall.
“I signed up for the pre-dental program,” she said, adding that she is torn between dental hygiene and nursing. “I want to do a ton of things.”
Decker is also interested in the medical field, and is considering becoming a pediatrician.
“I love healthcare, and I love working with kids,” she said.