Blount Red Cross graduates first nursing assistants

Members of the first class of nursing assistants graduating from the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross are, from left, Chelsey Caldwell, Heather Gibson, Benjamin Hatchett, April Arms, Danny Smith, Felicia Richardson and Danny Tucker. Two graduates were unable to attend the ceremony.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Members of the first class of nursing assistants graduating from the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross are, from left, Chelsey Caldwell, Heather Gibson, Benjamin Hatchett, April Arms, Danny Smith, Felicia Richardson and Danny Tucker. Two graduates were unable to attend the ceremony.

Nine individuals earned their pins Thursday after they completed the first five-week nursing assistants course held at the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Samantha Stout, director of nursing, said seven of the nine were able to attend the pinning ceremony at the chapter’s office on Triangle Park Drive in Maryville. New director Jess Hernandez addressed the 45 to 50 gathered. Afterward, Stout and Hernandez called the students up to receive their pins and certificates of completion.

Perfect attendance and highest achievement awards were presented, and Tim Anderson, director of Nursing at NHC Fort Sanders, spoke.

“This was the very first class for Blount County Chapter,” said Stout. “We got our authorization in November and started our first class in January. We are planning to do 10 classes this year. We have a new class starting on Monday, and there are 12 people signed up.”

Stout said most take the class to become certified to start a career in health care. “For some, this is all they want to do is be a nursing assistant,” she said. “Others want to go on and become an LPN or an RN, and this is a good way to get their foot in the door in one of the area nursing homes or hospitals.”

Stout said the job market for nursing assistants who successfully complete the program and become certified through the state is encouraging. “Their prospects of getting a job are good,” she said.

The students have to complete a training program like the Red Cross is now offering. Then the state sends an examiner who watches them demonstrate necessary skills. This is followed by the student taking a written exam, Stout said.

“If they pass, their name is listed on the Tennessee Nursing Assistants’ Registry. Then they are listed as a certified nursing assistant,” she said.

Stout said the Blount County Chapter started the process last March of trying to get all the authorizations necessary for the class. They had to go through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in Nashville and also obtained authorization through the Tennessee Department of Health, she said.

Tuition is $995. “Some of our students are getting funding through the Tennessee Career Centers,” she said.

Class hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applications for the training are available at the Blount County Red Cross office. Requirements for the course include a high school diploma, a sheriff’s office background check and a physical with a TB skin test.

The Nursing Assistant’s Training class schedule for 2011 is Feb. 14 to March 17; March 21 to April 21; April 25 to May 21; May 31 to June 30; July 5 to Aug. 4; Aug. 8 to Sept. 9; Sept. 12 to Oct. 13; Oct. 17 to Nov. 17 and Nov. 21 to Dec. 22.

For more information, call the Blount County Chapter, American Red Cross at 865-983-0821.

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