Nurse Aide Program
The Nurse Aide Training Program at Luzerne County Community College is designed to train students in the basic knowledge and skills needed in order to take care of the elderly and/or the disabled. This dedicated career path needs caring and well-instructed individuals willing to learn specialized skills and care techniques. Many people may know or have heard of nurse aides, but may not know what it takes to be a nurse aide.
The Nurse Aide training program is a three-week course. This comprehensive course is designed to train the student in the basic knowledge and skills they will need to care for the elderly. Students will learn to give personal care and use basic nursing skills; assist with basic emergency care; recognize basic signs and symptoms of common ailments and conditions; how to provide a clean and safe environment; and apply the basic principles of infection control.
In order to take the course, students must meet certain requirements:
- Complete a Continuing Education Application
- Provide a copy of high school diploma or graduate equivalency diploma (GED)
- Attend a two-hour intake session and meet the requirements of the entrance assessment.
- Complete medical history and physical examination
- Two-step PPD or chest x-ray
- Complete a criminal history record check from the PA State Police or an FBI background check if you have not been a Pennsylvania resident for two consecutive years
- Provide a copy of student professional liability certificate of insurance
After completing the course, the Nurse Aide trainee takes written and skills competency testing administered by the American Red Cross to be placed on the PA Nurse Aide Registry.
Nancy Adkins just completed the Nurse Aide Training program at LCCC. "There's more than just maintaining another person's hygiene needs," she says. "When I said I wanted to become a nurse aide, that?s what people assumed I would be doing, but I learned it's much more than that."
A nurse aide provides hands-on care to patients and observes the patients physical, mental and emotional conditions. This includes taking the patient's temperature, pulse and respiration rate. The aide must also prepare and serve meals (mash up the food if necessary), bathe, and dress the patient.
"This job isn't for everyone," Brittany Samsal says. "However, this course helped me out a lot. It taught me the proper patient care, how to handle working with other workers, and how to deal with the daily living skills for patients." Tammy Ondeck teaches the nurse aide classes. "I like this course because it gives students a chance to see if they really like this field," she says. "It's extremely important that you treat patients the way you want to be treated, because you become part of their family," she adds.
The Nurse Aide Training program is taught at the LCCC Francis S. and Mary Gill Carrozza, RN Health Sciences Center in downtown Nanticoke. Classes are held in a simulated medical facility. In the classroom, Megan Bartuska is observing as one of her students is practicing how to perform blood pressure on another student.
"Understand you're caring for a real person," Bartuska says to the students. "You have to take care of the patient like you would yourself."
A cart next to the bedside carries blankets, hospital gowns, and gloves ? all of the items found in nursing facilities and hospitals. Students practice use of privacy curtains which surround the beds of patients.
Similar to any health care facility, the students must follow rules to help give them the hands-on experience they will face in the future. To understand those rules, Bartuska prepares them for their Red Cross certification by having the students practice their skills training and adhering to the Red Cross guidelines publication which the instructors have dubbed "their bible." "The steps are brutal," Bartuska says. "Follow your steps, follow your bible," she keeps repeating to her students.
"It's important that you do what you think you're supposed to do," Bartuska states. "I am the Red Cross watching what you do. Forget that I'm here and take care of your patents," she says as she watches her student Tyler, as he's attempting to correctly put a sock on another student acting as a patient. After LCCC, Tyler plans on continuing his education and hopes to be a future doctor.
"Nurse aides don't get the recognition they should. Aides aren?t thought about and that?s what bothers me," she says. "I want to see people getting help. This is a very good program, because these students deserve the recognition," she says.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nursing assistants held about 1.5 million jobs in 2012. More than 75% of all nursing assistants work in hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities.
The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $24,420 in May 2012, that's an hourly wage of $11-15.00. Most nursing assistants work full time. Since nursing homes and hospitals provide care at all hours, nursing aides and orderlies may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Students who wish to take the Nurse Aide Training Program at LCCC can visit the Continuing Education Office in person at the Main Campus in Nanticoke or call (800) 377-5222 ext. 7495 or ext. 7489 for registration details.
Story written by LCCC Journalism student Amber Matinas