DMACC celebrates high school CNAs’ achievements

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Makenzie Dresback, a CNA student in her junior year at Woodward-Granger High School, will be taking her state exam in December. Her goal is to become a hospice nurse. Photo courtesy DMACC


Three Perry-area high school students who are currently enrolled in DMACC VanKirk’s Health Occupations Academy have received their Basic Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate of Completion and successfully passed the state exam to become certified CNAs.

The students are under the direction of Perry VanKirk Academy Instructor Danielle Navarro, who holds a BSN from Drake University and has teaching experience at Des Moines University and Southwest Community College. Navarro, an instructor at DMACC since 2016, holds certifications in trauma, BLS, advanced cardiac and pediatric life support nursing.

“I applaud all the students for their dedication and initiative to complete this process as a high school student,” Navarro said. She said that once students receive their CNA Certificates of Completion from DMACC, they are eligible to take the state’s written and skills exam. The students must pay for this exam at their own expense and are given three opportunities to pass. Three students have already passed the exam.

“It is quite an accomplishment for them to pass the state exam on the first attempt,” said Navarro.

Students from the Perry, Woodward-Granger, Dallas-Center Grimes and Adel-De Soto-Minburn school districts enrolled in the class this fall and are now at various stages of the testing process. Area high school students may enroll in nursing as well as other Career Academy programs to earn both high school and DMACC credit.

Navarro said some high school students who earn their Basic CNA certificate do not go on to pass their state exam while they are enrolled in the academy. If they decide later to pursue a career path in nursing, they need to retake the certification course before they can take their state exam, she said.

Most students take the opportunity to pass the state exam while still in high school. DMACC Academic Advisor Tom Lipovac said he hopes to see that trend continue.

“The expression, ‘Life’s Calling,’ is the essence of DMACC,” Lipovac said. “It is designed to inspire, energize and encourage students to achieve their career dreams. We are proud of the commitment these students have shown in choosing the healthcare profession as their ‘Life’s Calling.’”

Makenzie Dresback, an assistant nursing student in her junior year at Woodward-Granger High School, will be taking her state exam in December. Her goal is to become a hospice nurse.

“It takes wit and courage to take care of others in difficult and inexplicable situations,” Dresback said. “It will be a privilege to help people in their most vulnerable time.”

Eddie Diaz, director of the VanKirk Center, said DMACC’s Health Occupations Academy is “the academy with the highest demand at our center. We are proud of the students who take on this challenge and are thankful to their schools who choose to invest in them.”

Students interested in taking spring courses at the VanKirk Career Academy should reach out to their high school counselor.

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