North Dakota Needs More CNAs

School is starting across the state this week, which means summer courses are wrapping up. Renée Cooper tells us about one high school summer class that’s filling a huge need in our community.

We visited with a class of students working to fill that gap.

Bayleigh Palmer always wanted to work in medicine.

The CNA student explains, “My mother was a paramedic, my step-dad’s a paramedic, my grandpa was a doctor and I wanted to start as young as possible. Being a CNA you can start young and it’s a lot of fun being a CNA.”

Certified Nurse Aides can start out making over 16 dollars an hour in long term care.

CNA Instructor Jessica Mehlhoff adds, “They can work in hospitals, they can work in long-term care, assisted living and home-care. They’re assisting people with their daily needs: toileting, bathing, taking vital signs.”

But these students all do it for the passion.

CNA Student Cassy Flemmer says, “Everything comes at you kind of on a whim and it’s hard, it’s hard work; a lot of hard work, but it’s just kind of fun. And I mean, you’re important. You matter in that field.”

Many of these students start out working at the Baptist Home, where, like many health care centers in our community, there’s a serious need for CNAs.

Baptist Health Care Center Clinical Coordinator Jessica Abbott adds, “There’s a need everywhere. Our facility was one of the lucky ones, the staffing crisis hit us a little later than it hit everybody else, but when it hit, it hit hard.”

And when there’s a personnel shortage, particularly in healthcare, the patients are the ones to suffer. 

Abbott says, “We just welcome these guys with open arms, because they fit right in. And we need to fill those holes so that these people can get the care that they need.”

Abbott shared that there is also a shortage of nurses in our state.  

On the bright side, 100 percent of students in the summer class passed their board certification
and are ready to join the workforce.

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