Career Explore Launches CNA Lab


Kay Landon

Senior Kenneth Godoy speaks to a district official on opening day of the lab.

Matthew Dragani, Co-Editor in Chief

For many students, sorting through career goals and future plans can seem like an immense and confusing process.

Thankfully, programs like Career Explore here at Wheat Ridge High school can help students in the program by providing hands on experiences in different career fields and offering a glimpse at the real and sometimes less appealing aspects of a potential job that may help a student make a choice. These students learn about the healthcare field, hospitality field, or the construction industry.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes are the most recent addition to the program, allowing students to enroll in courses and an internship providing both high and college credit from Red Rocks Community College. The course is led by Elerie Archer, who has taught nursing classes for a year and a half in the community college system, and Career Explore leader Jane Johnson. The courses began on Jan. 28 of this year, using equipment and supplies donated from Vivage Senior nursing home and purchasing the rest through monetary donations.

 To join the exclusive 12 week program, which currently has only 10 students, all the applicant had to take and pass was an ACCUPLACER exam to be admitted. Alongside the regular classes, the curriculum includes an internship, in which the students observe nurses help with senior living at the Wheatridge Manor Care Center. The final test at the end of the course includes a 32-hour clinical experience, encompassing several seven-to-eight hour days where students are responsible for feeding, dressing, and taking the vitals, alongside other duties.

To Archer, the benefits of the program are far-reaching. “I think it’s important because it really gives them a skill that they can profit off of for a lifetime… And it gives back to the community in terms of economic resources because they’re working and contributing,” she said.

This work can also give students a look into the unseemly bits of nursing “It gives students an opportunity to see if they really want to be a nurse, because it can be glamorized on TV a lot but if you find out you don’t like blood, well that may be a big thing because you’ll be dealing with blood.”  Archer said.

“It’s a good experience for them to see if senior living is something they’re interested in doing. It’s a good experience to get when they’re 17 and 18 years old instead of spending a lot of money when you’re 22 or 23,” Ms. Johnson remarked, “They get this great exposure now and see where they want to go with it.” While it’s apparent that both these teachers see a large benefit this course contributes, the students are singing its praises as well.

When asked about her experience,  junior Alexis Martinez said, “It’s really good because it’s something you get for free, but to get it outside of high school would be expensive.”  “It definitely helps out people who don’t like typical school, It really saves a lot of kids, there’s been many kids who wouldn’t be graduating right now if it wasn’t for the [Career Explore] program in general.” chimed in senior Kenneth Godoy.

Many students like to complain that what they learn in school doesn’t apply to real life or any future career. That may be true for some classes; however, this CNA nursing program is offering students to learn not only in a classroom environment fitted with dummies and medical equipment, but they also get to experience what they learn in class during their internships, directly applying what they had just learned.

WRHS is full of many phenomenal teachers who do good work, but for some that simply isn’t enough. Hopefully, the things this program offers may be able to help that uninspired population to succeed in the future. Finding out what you want to do in life, what will really bring you lasting fulfillment is challenging. Though Archer and Johnson aren’t single handedly assigning every student a purpose in life, their work within and outside of the classroom is making a difference.