Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Wed, April 21

Certified Nursing Assistant program returns to Coconino Community College in Page

The photo is of Carmen Bernal, the new CNA instructor for CCC in Page. (Photo/Kay Leum)

The photo is of Carmen Bernal, the new CNA instructor for CCC in Page. (Photo/Kay Leum)

PAGE, Ariz. — The patient beds are made. Medical supplies are at the ready. The mannequins are prepped for receiving care, and the instructor is ready to teach.

Now, what’s left is the students.

After a seven-year hiatus, the Certified Nursing Assistant program is returning to Coconino Community College in Page.

“This program is important for CCC to support the Page community,” said Kay Leum, executive director of Extended Learning at CCC. “The opportunity to go through the course here in Page, whether students want to go straight into the workforce in the area or to continue studies for a nursing degree, offers so many benefits.”

For instance, Leum said that students will no longer have to make long drive to Flagstaff to be able to complete the requirements of the course, and the students in Page interested in pursuing a Nursing degree and license can take care of their CNA requirements in their hometown. Additionally, students interested in finding work after getting through the course and passing the licensing exam will have a number of places to land a job in Page and neighboring Navajo Nation.

“I don’t think any of our students will have trouble finding jobs, if that’s their intention,” Leum said.

The program was shuttered in late 2013 when the college underwent austerity measures meant to stabilize it financially. Leum said that the Page community needed the program to come back to life, and CCC’s administration committed funds to make the program a reality. Leum added that the college will be looking for additional funding sources to help support the program for the long term.

Katherine Costa, director of Nursing and Allied Health at CCC, said the 16-week course will be taught fully in person, and the class capacity will be capped at 10 students. Classes will be Monday and Wednesday evenings, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Students will be maintaining all safety and health requirements outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Coconino County Health and Human Services Department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the end of the course, the students will be able to sit for the CNA exam and they will be able to apply for their license through the Arizona Board of Nursing,” Costa said.

She added that Flagstaff is now a testing site for CNA licensure, so Page students will be able to test in Flagstaff and not have to travel all the way down to Phoenix.

Page resident Carmen Bernal, a Registered Nurse who has worked the past seven years in the hospital and home-health setting, has been selected as the CNA faculty to teach the course.

“This is my first class, and I’m so excited,” she said. “You’re nurturing the beginning seed of a healthcare provider. It’s a very important role.”

It takes a concerted effort to make that seed blossom. It’s a calling she takes very seriously.

“To do this for students … I hope I can help prepare them and support them,” Bernal said.

People interested in a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or in furthering their education to become a full-fledged Nurse, tend to possess certain qualities, Bernal said. They are empathetic, compassionate, caring and not afraid to work hard.

“I’s a really hard job,” she said. “But it’s so worth it.”

Leum said the program has a number of entrance requirements – including immunization records, finger printing records and more. Therefore, students need to plan ahead if they plan to enroll for the fall courses.

More information about CCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program is available by visiting in Page can be reached at 928-645-3987.

Larry Hendricks is the Senior Manager of Public Relations and Marketing at CCC

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