Nursing Assistants Play Key Role in Patient Care

Nursing assistants play a vital role in the holistic care of patients. From working in long-term care facilities to home-health and hospitals, the role of the nursing assistant is to provide caring and compassionate direct care to patients.

“CNA's are so valuable,” says nursing faculty, Lisa Gillespie. “I can tell you my career as a floor nurse and care for patients was all the better when I worked with CNA's who worked hard and really cared about the outcomes of patients.”

According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, there are more than 4.5 million caregivers providing hands-on care as nursing assistants with an estimated 700,000 new positions that will need to be filled in the next 25 years. 

The National Network of Career Nursing Assistants has set aside June 18-25, 2020 as the 43rd Annual National Nursing Assistants Week

At Methodist College students can follow two different paths to become nursing assistants. The college offers a five-week course that prepares students to sit for the Illinois Nurse Aide examination. Applicants for the course must have a high school diploma or a GED, or be at least 16 years of age with a high school GPA of 2.5. Students in the college’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are eligible to sit for the state certification exam after successful completion of the N232 Dimensions of Holistic Nursing course.

Many of the college’s students who have earned the CNA credential have worked as nursing assistants prior to starting their nursing studies, or they work in hospitals or long-term care facilities while in school.

This was the path taken by many of Methodist College’s nursing faculty:

“I started off my role in health care by obtaining the CNA through Pekin High School’s Health Occupations program in 1991. As a nursing student, I used this certification to work at Methodist Hospital. This experience as a CNA taught me so much about caring for others and opened my eyes to the role of other members of the healthcare team. – Lisa Gillespie, MSN, RN, CPN 

“I began my healthcare career at age 15.5 years with a hospital based CNA class, however I could not begin working until I was of legal age, then 16. On my 16th birthday they called me to work, I was delighted and have been going ever since, almost 50 years. I was fortunate to have many fantastic CNA and nurse teachers along the way. I can honestly say that those years in high school and beyond, working as a CNA, really shaped my nursing career. I can still remember the names of my patients and their conditions from 50 years ago. Some of my most gratifying and rewarding memories in health care came from caring for the physical and emotional needs of my patients as a CNA.” – Cathy Jackson Bruce, MS, MSN, RN

“I did (work as a CNA), but without the benefit of certification. I just had on-the-job training with a phenomenal group of LVN’s and RN’s while in high school.” – Dr. Deborah Garrison, Methodist College Provost and Vice ChancellorPhD, MS, RN

“I was a CNA when I got out of high school and I really enjoyed the work and I met a lot of great nurses, and many of them were great mentors to me. I think being an aide truly helps to prepare you for your nursing career.” – Deb Murphy, MS, BSN, RN

“I worked as a CNA during the summers while attending what was then called Methodist School of Nursing.” – Shelly Riney, MSN, BSN, RNC

“I worked as a nursing assistant prior to ever becoming a nurse. I worked at Sharon Woods for the mentally challenged and loved it. I would highly recommend anyone going into healthcare to do so because it gives you a real opportunity to see what healthcare is.” – Shalonda Knox, MSN, RN

“I was a CNA while I was going to LPN school, and that was so long ago that you just went to the hospital and they did on-the-job training and then sent you out to face the patients!” – Jacquie Kauffman, MSN, BSN, RN

Some of the other Methodist College faculty who worked as nursing assistants prior to becoming nurses include:

Brandy Prosser, MSN, RN-BC
Sara Phillips, MSN, RN
Lisa Pitzer, MSN, RN, CNE
Lisa Preston, MSN, BSN, RN, CHSE, CNE

Methodist College will offer a Nursing Assistant course during the fall 2020 semester.