New Roanoke County Schools nursing program to create more certified nursing assistants

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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) In Roanoke County, students are learning what it takes to get into the healthcare industry, all while being trained for in-demand positions.

After four decades in nursing, Karen Zimmerman is returning to the classroom. This time as a teacher.

Karen Zimmerman, RN Instructor, said, “I'm hopeful that they will fall in love with healthcare.”

She's the instructor for the new nursing careers program at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology. Carilion pays for her position as part of a partnership with Roanoke County Public Schools.

Jason Suhr, Director of Career and Technical Education, said, “It really made the possibility at looking at nursing careers a possibility.”

Zimmerman said, “It's a very high demand job. It's also a demanding job.”

In the class, students learn the fundamentals of healthcare, including how to work with patients. Students will be able to take an exam to become a Certified Nurse Assistant. Zimmerman says being a CNA is a good jumping off point.

“I've worked with several physicians that started out as CNAs,” she said.

Kishana Amisial, junior, said, “Then I saw nursing and I said this is my shot, my chance and I just went for it.”

About 40 students are in the program like Kishana Amisial, turning the experience here into a lifetime of nursing. Zimmerman hopes they also learn some life lessons along the way.

Zimmerman said, “I want them to love what they're doing, what they ultimately decide to do, and I just want them to be good at it.”

Students will be able to sit for the CNA exam this spring.