CNA Program at Bath Tech Continues Partnership with Local Senior Health Center Despite Pandemic

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Bath, ME (January 26, 2021) – Health Science Instructor Susan Beauregard, RN, teaches a one-year Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program for junior and senior high school students at Bath Tech. In a typical year, students visit local health care and extended living facilities to gain clinical experience; COVID-19 has made that “live work” difficult to come by, but Beauregard found an opportunity at Mid Coast Senior Health Center. 

“Students are required to have 70 hours of supervised clinical experience in order to qualify for a CNA certificate in the State of Maine,” Beauregard said. “It’s been a huge challenge to teach this class with distance learning, but I do feel extremely lucky because there are many kids (in other CNA programs) that cannot do their clinical (training) at all this year.” 

Past clinical sites have included Winship Green Center for Health & Rehabilitation, Avita, and HillHouse Assisted Living. So far this school year, Beauregard’s nine students have earned 22 hours of clinical experience at Mid Coast Senior Health Center and she feels they are still on track to meet their requirements. Activities for these CNAs-in-training mostly involve assisting residents and patients with daily living: feeding, bathing, and ambulation. 

“Our job is to give patients the best life that they can have,” Beauregard said.

When they are not participating in live work at the Senior Health Center, Beauregard teaches students home health skills in the classroom lab, but distance learning has restricted their in-class time. To compensate, Beauregard and other teachers are getting creative with at-home lab assignments.

“I belong to a CTE (Career and Technical Education) group on Facebook and we share a lot of ideas. One teacher posted a package where students can learn how to cover and clean a wound using an empty paper towel roll with wounds drawn on it,” she said. “We also have skill sheets from the State that kids have to demonstrate, like the ability to feed someone. I had them practice on a household member and film themselves so that I could review them.”

Looking beyond the pandemic, Beauregard and her students have plenty to look forward to. Their classroom in the new Bath Tech building l will have access to new life skills facilities like a kitchen, washer, and dryer. COVID-19 grant funding has also supplied them with a package of four mannequins, one of which includes a programmable blood pressure simulator.

The good news doesn’t end there: Mid Coast Senior Health Center has already hired three of Beauregard’s students; an ideal scenario where they can be paid while they will continue their schooling and prepare to take the State’s CNA exam in June. Every student who passes their certification will be readily employable at various healthcare facilities and well prepared for further health career training.

“Overall, I think we’ve been able to do many things well this year,” said Beauregard. “We’re in school and we’ve still been able to get hands on experience. We are doing our best for our kids.”

Photo: Chelsea Hinds and Taylor Rumery (in chair)