ST. PETERSBURG — Encouragement and strength. This is what Pinellas Technical College (PTC) Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) instructor Judy Prime-Sayles strives to give her students when they consider dropping out of the four-month program because of struggles such as being a single parent with no one to rely on or a student with self-doubt.
Nineteen-year-old Daisha Johnson graduated from the program in May and is appreciative of the encouragement and patience from Prime-Sayles and her classmates.
“When I came to PTC, I was a hot mess,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I had my son when I was 17, kicked out of my house and I was just looking for something to better myself with.”
Without a car and not wanting to live off the government, she strapped her son into his stroller and walked the mile and a half to the St. Petersburg campus of PTC and spoke to counselors about programs and financial aid.
For five days straight, she and her son made the mile and a half journey to PTC so that the staff could get everything organized for her. They helped her choose which program was right for her and helped her get the financial aid paperwork straight.
There were times when Johnson thought she wouldn’t be able to finish the program because of the difficulty in understanding certain procedures, but Prime-Sayles and her fellow classmates worked with her until she grasped what she thought she couldn’t. She was hired at an assisted living facility two days after she graduated.
Prime-Sayles’ goal is to have more students who wholeheartedly want to work in the CNA field such as Johnson. In the past she’s seen students do poorly and drop out because their hearts were not in the work.
“I love having students who genuinely care about others and who have a good bedside manner,” said Prime-Sayles. She admits that finding students who sincerely want to be healthcare professionals has highlighted her seven-year teaching career at PTC.
The four month long program requires a lot of commitment out of students as they attend class Mon.-Thurs. from 7 – 2:15 p.m. There are three certifications in this program: Nursing Aide, which teaches basic patient care; Home Health Certification that teaches safety in the house, especially with the elderly, and the Patient Care Assistance Certification that they receive after fulfilling the required hours in a hospital.
Twenty-one year old recent graduate Deanna Foster knows about the seriousness of the program and the time that goes into successfully completing it. In January of this year she enrolled in the course but because of distractions from her personal life, she started missing classes. This resulted in her falling behind.
“I really liked the program, and I wasn’t as dedicated as I needed to be and I let other things distract me,” said Foster. “Unfortunately those distractions really cost me because I missed a vital class—CPR.”
Not completing the program really upset her. Foster wanted a career and not just a job so she sat down with her adoptive parents and discussed her options. After being urged to enroll in the program once again, she took it seriously and graduated last month.
With the certifications and resume that Prime-Sayles helps every student who completes the course construct, Foster is on her way to finding employment as a healthcare professional.
The CNA program is also a stepping-stone to higher education in the nursing field. After the completion of the program, a student can enroll in the 18-month licensed practical nurse program at PTC and from there matriculate to St. Petersburg College to become a registered nurse.
PTC has helped many individuals choose the proper training for new career paths. If you’re interested in being a healthcare professional, please visit www.pcsb.org/myptc or call (727) 893-2500. Financial aid is available.