• East Gaston High School students pass state exam for CNA certification

    Summer is a time to travel, relax, and enjoy a few months away from school, but for three students in the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School, it meant studying for the Certified Nurse Aide I exam.

    And now, seniors Gracelyn Gaddy, Ashlyn Lewis, and Taylor Wright can officially call themselves licensed CNAs. By the time the students complete their senior year in May, they will have received their CNA I certification and will be working toward taking the CNA II exam, giving them a head start on their desired career in the medical field.

    “Becoming a CNA is just the first step,” said Gaddy, who aspires to be a nurse practitioner.  “The Health Sciences Academy program has been a blessing.  It has allowed me to take college level classes as I work toward my associate degree at Gaston College.”

    Gaddy is already using the skills she learned in the classroom in a workplace setting.  

    “ I work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday at Courtland Terrace in Gastonia,” said Gaddy, who takes vital signs and assists with patients’ personal care needs.  “Earning my CNA I certification allowed me to start work immediately and continue my education while working in the healthcare field.”

    For Taylor Wright, passing the CNA I exam meant she no longer had to use her younger siblings as patients.

    “I would brush their teeth, feed them, and wash their feet,” said Wright, who wanted to be sure she knew how to do the skills evaluation portion of the exam. “My clinical skills test was performed in front of an evaluator, and I had to correctly perform the critical duties of each skill that I was demonstrating.”

    Ashlyn Lewis, who plans to become a nurse, said the Health Sciences Academy has provided her with opportunities she would not have had otherwise. 

    “I am so thankful to be a part of the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School,” she said. “ Mrs. (Joyce) Floyd is a wonderful teacher and she fully prepared me for both the written and hands-on portions of the exam to become a registered CNA.  I will use the same skills she taught us to further my education in college and when making career choices.”

    Together, all three students credit their college professor with getting them excited about the healthcare industry.

    “Mrs. Floyd taught our class lessons that we use in our everyday lives,” Wright said. “She taught us not only the skills to perform as a CNA, but professionalism, eye-to-eye contact, how to communicate with the patient, and proper bedside manner.”

    Gaddy added that Mrs. Floyd took time to make sure the class learned everything that was required to pass the exam, and Lewis said she made the class fun through hands-on learning. 

    Last week, East Gaston found out that student Emily Cerilli also passed the exam, giving the school four students with a CNA license.  Three more students are scheduled to take the test next month, which could bring the total to seven. 

    "I'm so proud of these students," professor Joyce Floyd said. "They had to work hard to gain the knowledge and learn the skills necessary to pass the state licensure exam. And, more importantly, these are things they will need to know while working in a long-term care facility, hospital, or clinic."

    Through funding from CaroMont Health, students enrolled in the nursing pathway save approximately $500. They are provided with a uniform, watch, stethoscope, and a blood pressure cuff.  Also included in the cost is the state exam, a background check, and insurance.

    Aside from having the opportunity to earn 26 college credits, students in the nurse aide pathway have guaranteed admission into the Gaston College nursing program after graduating from high school.  They could even have the opportunity to sign on with CaroMont Health as they work toward completing a two-year degree at Gaston College.  In addition, students may transfer to Belmont Abbey College where they can earn a four-year degree in nursing.

    To learn more about the Health Sciences Academy at East Gaston High School, please visit gaston.k12.nc.us/egaston.  Rising ninth grade students from outside the East Gaston attendance area who would like to attend the Health Sciences Academy may apply in the spring when Gaston County Schools accepts applications for its 21 school choice programs.

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