Virginia Health Services welcomed nine new Nurse Aides to its ranks Friday with the graduation of its most recent class of Care Assistant apprentices.
The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program places Care Assistant students in the classroom and on the floor for clinicals for about six weeks before their graduation to Nurse Aides. The program also covers the cost of the certification exam to be a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA).
Instructor Nora Gillespie, RN, and Director of Education Princess Henderson, BSN, RN, said the nine women came together to form a sisterhood.
“They had each other’s backs,” Nora said.
The graduating class was: Daniesha Anderson, Latoya Eley, Elvia “Roxy” Harris, Krystal Jones (valedictorian), Darlesia Mauro, Tierra Nared, Amie Poe (salutatorian), Alexcia Pridgen and Ty’Zanae Sills.
They were joined by friends and family for the ceremony at The Arbors Independent Living and then a reception with cake at the education center.
VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin opened with remarks, saying, “We are all here to support what you are doing. This is a big step in your careers. The work that you do makes a difference in people’s lives.”
To graduate the apprenticeship class, students must pass 14 tests and learn 22 clinical skills in about 25 days.
“Nothing is easy about this class,” Nora said. “You all were outstanding. You helped each other get across the finish line – especially in clinicals.
“What you should know,” she said, turning to the audience, “is each one of them has heart and compassion. … They had purpose in all they did.”
The nine women bonded quickly and all brought skill, commitment and compassion to each day of the experience.
“This is the stepping stone for your career in healthcare,” Princess said. “I’m proud of your growth and development throughout the class.”
Princess and Nora had glowing remarks about each graduate. Trending themes were their commitment, knowing they had a sense of purpose and connection to one another and their Residents, and having a heart for compassionate care.
Darlesia earned Princess’s Champion Award, because “she’s like Rocky” and had the third highest grade in the class.
Val & Sal
Amie Poe was the salutatorian. She had perfect attendance – and early attendance, Princess said.
“She had her nose to the grindstone,” Nora said. “And she found out it this was where she wanted to be.”
Valedictorian Krystal Jones “set the bar high,” Princess said. “You worked hard for this.”
Krystal fought through tears to deliver her valedictorian address.
“Y’all broke me out of my shyness,” she said. “We pulled through and got it done. I wish the best to you all in whatever you choose to do.”
The graduates will be placed at Coliseum, Northampton, York, The Newport and Walter Reed nursing and rehabilitation centers.
Join our team! We are always on the lookout for the next class of apprentices. The next class begins in November.
Applications for our January 2023 class open Nov. 14 and will be available at vahs.com/careers. Apply to be a Care Assistant.