Dallastown Area High School senior Crystal Poe, 17, doesn’t work at a grocery store or restaurant or family business.
She is already pursuing her future career in the nursing field.
Poe is a certified nursing assistant at ManorCare Nursing and Rehab in Dallastown. From the “customers” to the environment to the qualifications, Crystal’s job isn’t just the average teen employment.
How long have you been working at ManorCare?
I started working there in late June, and I love every minute of it.
How many hours do you normally work?
I work two days a week along with every other weekend. On weekdays I only work until 10 p.m. because I go to school the following day. On the weekends, however, I work the full eight-hour shift, 3 to 11 (p.m.).
Why did you choose to be a CNA?
Caring for people and helping them is what I love to do. I am very caring, optimistic and “bubbly,” as they say in the nursing home. Nursing homes look for people who can provide cheer and care to the residents. I also figured it would be a good start for my nursing career. Starting out small can really benefit me in my future in a nursing program.
Did you have to go through any training before you could start?
Yes, I did. First I went to my school-to-work coordinator and asked how to start my nursing career early. I decided to go for training over my summer vacation. I went to class for about three weeks, which included class time and clinical time at another nursing home.
After completing my training, I started working for ManorCare. They trained me for 10 more days so I was comfortable with the atmosphere and the residents. After these training sessions, I was only a nurses’ assistant (NA). To become a CNA, I passed my written and clinical tests at the Red Cross building.
What types of care or activities do you provide?
My shift starts at 3 p.m. and it’s non-stop moving – I do a lot of care for the residents and help them with their ADLs (activities of daily living). The CNAs are responsible for about 10 residents a night. I answer call lights (signals a resident needs assistance) and help set up and distribute the food trays, making sure to feed any residents who can’t feed themselves. Each CNA has a chore assigned at the beginning of each shift, like taking vital signs or filling the residents’ cups with ice. I also do what is called “dry rounds” – going to different patients and changing their briefs if they are incontinent.
“Ambulating,” or walking, residents who can’t walk themselves is another task of mine.
Following dinner is when I start my p.m. care. I bathe everyone on my list and give a shower to those who have a shower scheduled that night. I basically assist with the residents’ bedtime needs, which include anything from mouth care to applying moisturizing lotion.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of being a CNA?
My favorite aspects would have to be listening to the residents talk about their past and just interacting with them overall. I also enjoy straightening up their room and making beds. Weird, I know, but when I was in my clinical training I would always clean the rooms with a smile on my face.
I don’t really know if I have a least favorite aspect about doing my job, but I don’t enjoy when we don’t have enough of CNAs for the night.
What have you learned from your job that you haven’t learned in school?
Just by interacting with the residents, I have learned about different diseases and health conditions that I would have never learned in high school. I’ve also learned about different medications and their uses.
If you had to convince someone in one sentence to become a CNA, what sentence would that be?
Nursing requires a lot of patience and commitment; being able to take care of people and provide them with the most comfortable conditions is essential – why not be that person who can cheer them up and make them feel at home?