21 students to complete certified nursing assistant program | News

IN a few more days, 21 students will become certified nursing assistants and can be employed at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. or at any local clinic.

At the same time, the training they received can be credited if they pursue a college degree relating to the medical field, according to the Public School System’s Career Technical and Education or PSS-CTE program.

The certified nursing assistant or CNA program was launched in 2020 by PSS-CTE to create an additional career/workforce pathway for local students.

This year, 21 students from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota participated in the CNA program compared to 15 three years ago.

The tuition-free summer program started on June 20, and the students were provided with scrub suits and stethoscopes as well as stipends/allowances and free meals.

The participants are junior high school, senior high school, incoming college freshmen or current college students.

Federal support

PSS-CTE, including the CNA program, received funding support when President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.

Enacted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, ARPA aims to, among other things, keep schools safely open, tackle learning loss and mental health.

The CNA program, for its part, is a partnership between PSS and the Guam Marianas Training Center. The instructors are trained working nursing professionals. Classes are held from Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the GMTC Middle Road facility.

PSS-CTE’s other career pathway programs are the Teacher Academy, which is held in partnership with the School of Education of Northern Marianas College; the Northern Marianas Technical Education Summer Tech Program; and the Summer Internship Program, which is a partnership with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.

College credits

The CNA program is designed to offer college-credited courses to high school students.

Saipan Southern High School student Joann Garcia,18, said it is “a very good opportunity for a lot of students who would like to join the medical field or those who want to find their career.”

“This is a great opportunity especially for me since I’m an upcoming junior and will start applying for (college), and also start thinking what I am going to do for the rest of my life,” Garcia told Variety.

Since middle school, Joshua Revillame, 17, has been interested in the nursing profession. “Once I heard of this program, it caught my interest immediately.”

Incoming high school senior Elishah Mae Valdez, 17, heard about the program from her aunt, a CHCC nurse.

“This program has really engaged me with interesting topics. As a whole, this is a great experience,” she added.

Incoming junior high school student Kaeli Pathil, 17, said her school supported her pre-college plan. She immediately signed up after receiving an email from her school counselor.

“I am happy PSS has this program because it gives me the opportunity to know more about nursing,” she said.

Incoming junior high school student Daryl Santiago, 16, said the program will help him prepare for college. “I wanted to be a nurse in the future because it is my dream, and I am starting it early,” he said.

Another high school student Elizah Canlas, 16, wants to be a travel nurse. “I am looking at the travel nurse program because I can go around places. But I really do want to be a nurse and help out with my family first and foremost,” she added.

Additional knowledge

Bea Villafuerte, 19, a pre-nursing student at Northern Marianas College, said: “This is a great opportunity for me…because…I can gain more knowledge and experience while taking a nursing course. I think this is a great start to know how it’s like to work at the hospital.”

She heard about the CNA program from a friend who completed it the previous year.

John Lawrence Apit, 18 and a pre-nursing student at NMC, said he joined the program “because I am interested in getting a CNA license.”

“Several of my friends have gotten their licenses already and they have high praises for the program. They told to me that this is a great opportunity for me to start with,” he said.

“I am honestly happy that PSS allows students to experience the different areas of the workforce while providing us with multiple opportunities,” he added.

Tinian High School’s Class of 2023 salutatorian, Saim Ali, 19, is now an associate in nursing student at NMC.

He said the CNA summer program is “a needed resource and support” for students like him.

 The CNA program gave spark to my learning,” he added. “Once I get certified, I can start working and at the same time gain more knowledge when I begin my college nursing course.”

Ali described the summer program as “rigorous.”

“We are learning a lot of information,” he said. “It’s challenging and difficult sometimes, but this is what we need if we want to be nursing professionals.”

He noted that Tinian needs more nurses. “PSS is actually encouraging the youth to try this career because this is especially helpful for Tinian where nurses are in great demand,” he said.

Jazreel Drilon, 17, signed up for the program before graduating from high school. He is now an incoming NMC freshman. “I was interested because they offer college credits and I can learn from professionals working at the hospital,” he said.

A second year NMC pre-nursing student, Kayla Macabanti, 18, signed up to “get additional skills and knowledge” through the one-month program.

“I learned about it from a friend who completed the program last summer. She inspired me to join. She is already in nursing,” Macabanti said. “This program is helping me a lot in my college pre-nursing course.”

Another NMC student, Jamille Pangelinan, 19, said the CNA program “will enhance my skills and learning in the medical field.”

Joana Nicole Acuña Signio, 18 and an incoming NMC sophomore, said the program “has provided me with opportunities, knowledge, and information that I will need in my future. This program is great, and I really love it.”

She said the program was designed to “give students hands-on experience that can be applied to the real world.”

Private school students

This year, several private school students also signed up for the CNA program.

Saipan International School’s Serin Chung, 16, is one of them.

“I want a career in the medical field and when I saw this opportunity, I just thought it would be a great chance to gain some insight of what it’s like,” said Chung, who added that her friend from Marianas High School told her about the program.

“The program is interesting and kind of challenging as well. But I am enjoying it,” she added.

Kevin Bao, 17, one of the two Mount Carmel School students in the program, said it will help him decide which career path to take.

“I want to try out how nursing is like and if it is the right path for me,” Bao added.

The other MCS student, Xinwen Jin, 18, said he is “extremely happy that PSS has extended this program to private schools.”

“My goal is to become a nurse, and this is a good opportunity to learn and get used to it and get nursing experience,” said Jin, who heard about the program from his teacher. “It’s a good experience because it’s my first time attending classes with fellow students from Rota and Tinian,” he added.

For more information about the PSS-CTE career pathways program, email the program director, Dr. Jessica B. Taylor, at [email protected]/.