Seven Baton Rouge Teens Earn Certification as Nursing Assistants

The pool of available, credentialed medical professionals in Baton Rouge is growing with young talent eager to provide quality patient care. Seven teenagers from the Baton Rouge area have passed Louisiana’s Certified Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation Program and, as a result, earned certification as nursing assistants.

Bernadette Skylar Baudy, Taylor Harris, Kole Smith, Lanacia Washington, Camyria Brown,  Zakaria Richard, and Genesis Davis successfully passed the state exam after completing a 10-week training in Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation’s (UREC) College & Career Ready Certified Nursing Assistant Institute that was offered in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation.

As certified nursing assistants, the youth are eligible to work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, rehabilitation centers, home and community-based settings, and other healthcare facilities. They are also poised for increased earnings and work potential, as nursing assistant jobs are expected to grow 8% faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

High Schooler Focused on Healthcare Career 

Taylor Harris is a senior in high school. Her long-term goals are to become a nurse practitioner. In the interim, she’s actively seeking employment opportunities at a nursing home or hospital that will allow her to apply the skills she learned during the CNA program in the workplace.

Harris said the training taught her the importance of CNAs in the medical field, instilled in her compassion and patience, and fueled her passion to help others.

“Participating in the CNA program as a young person has prepared me for my future because it’s given me the knowledge and experience beforehand,” Harris said. “While most will learn about the medical field as they enter college, thanks to UREC, I will already have some experience in this field.”

Taylor Harris (front, left) participated in classrom instruction and clinicals prior to earning CNA certification.

College-bound and Certified

Lanacia Washington intends to reap the benefits of certification. The Baton Rouge native’s recent accomplishments include completing the CNA institute and graduating from high school. But there’s more to her journey.

With certification under her belt, Washington is confidently navigating her first semester as a  student at Southern University and Agriculture & Mechanical College where she is preparing for a medical career.

“I actually joined the CNA program because I’m going to school to be an OBGYN. . . I felt it (CNA institute) was good practice,” Washington said.

Lanacia Washington learned patient sensitivity and care techniques during the CNA institute.

Community Partners Integral to Certification Pathway 

During the CNA Institute, participants gained many hours of CNA instruction and participated in clinicals where they learned how to take vital signs, assist with physical exams and obtain cultures, and they also developed patient sensitivity skills.

Participants studied intently and worked diligently under the tutelage of their course facilitator, Tonya Johnson, director of Med-Advance Training. Med-Advance facilitated all course instruction, coordinated clinical externship opportunities for the participants, and taught the youth best practices of the field.

Johnson said, “Obtaining certification as a nurse assistant is a great advantage to the community because it not only increases youth medical employment opportunities but provides enrichment in education for many youth who aspire to further their careers in the healthcare industry to meet the medical needs of the community.” In addition, the certification creates pathways for the youth to advance their medical careers as nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists, and other opportunities, she said.

Carl Dillon, UREC president & CEO, said the CNA institute is important to developing a much-needed pipeline of medical professionals. “At UREC, we believe in building today’s communities for tomorrow, which means ensuring that youth have access to quality training opportunities that prepare them for college and their careers. We’re extremely proud of these students on earning certification and know that they will impact the local health community in the days and years ahead.”

The CNA Institute is offered by UREC with the support of community partners:  Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation, City of Baton Rouge, Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation, Louisiana Department of Education, Capital One, and ReCast Baton Rouge.

UREC’s College & Career Ready initiative is a 21st Century Community Learning Center providing after-school and summer learning programs through UREC and community partners. College & Career Ready programs include the Certified Nursing Assistant, Pre-Law, IGNITE Entrepreneurship and ACT Prep, and CompTIA IT Fundamentals Institutes.

Photo: Left, Bernadette Skylar Baudy; top (left to right), Taylor Harris, Kole Smith, Lanacia Washington; bottom (left to right), Camyria Brown,  Zakaria Richard, and Genesis Davis