Why wait till after college to start your career?

Students at Osseo High School are becoming nursing assistants

by Sage Larson

MGSH STaff Intern

Osseo High Senior School includes a Health Science Magnet School offering numerous health courses that prepare students for various medical fields. One special course they provide is the Nursing Assistant Program.

A student in the Osseo Senior High School Nursing Assistant Program gets ready for class. At the end of the year, a student has the choice to take the state test, allowing passing students to work in a nursing home afterwards.

A student in the Osseo Senior High School Nursing Assistant Program gets ready for class. At the end of the year, a student has the choice to take the state test, allowing passing students to work in a nursing home afterwards.

The nursing program started in 1999 and is now taught by Laura Sotak. She was first an English teacher but went back to school and got her second degree in nursing. After school, she worked in orthopedics in San Francisco for a while. She came back to Minnesota working at Century Hennepin. Due to a back injury, she became a certified nurse judge for the state test. Once Osseo had an opening for the teaching position, Sotak grasped the opportunity.

The curriculum is focused on teaching students the activities of daily living and procedures in a nursing home — helping the residents out of bed, feeding, cleaning, dressing, teeth brushing, using different types of equipment, exercising, etc. — with the residents at a nursing home. Students receive more one-on-one learning due to small class sizes. Currently, Osseo has 12 students in one class and 13 in another. The class is only for one trimester and is a two hour class that holds two credits.

During the trimester, the students go to St. Therese of New Hope where they are paired with a mentor who guides them in the real work place. Fortunately, Osseo alumni are currently working at St. Therese, so the students have mentors that have been in their position before and can demonstrate how the Nursing Assistant class has brought them to where they are today. Having the students work within a real nursing home allows them to apply the skills they learned in class within the work force.

Brenna Klawiter, a senior at Osseo Senior High, is in the class and she’s enjoying it. “It’s fun to work in the lab and try things out,” she said.

At the end of the year, a student has the choice to take the state test. The student has to be at least 16 years old to take the test. In the state test, students are put in a scenario where their fundamental skills are examined. The test costs the students $146 dollars but if the student passes then the student can work in a nursing home afterwards. Osseo has an 87 percent passing rate.

This program isn’t solely offered for students at Osseo High School, students within the district can take this course as well as students in Anoka-Hennepin District, Brooklyn Center Schools, Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools, Elk River District, Mounds View Public Schools, Fridley Public Schools and Rockford Public Schools.

Students and teachers suggest that if a student is interested in becoming a nurse, they should take this course.

An OSH Nursing Assistant Program students cares for a “patient” in class. The curriculum is focused on teaching students the activities of daily living and procedures in a nursing home.

An OSH Nursing Assistant Program students cares for a “patient” in class. The curriculum is focused on teaching students the activities of daily living and procedures in a nursing home.

“By taking the class, students can find out if they’re interested in nursing,” Sotak said. “If not, then the students have learned basic caring skills for babies or grandparents. If the class confirms their interest, then the students are ahead of the game because the Nursing Assistant Program is a required class at every college, except the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The students will have experience before college and can earn college credit if they pass the state test and receive a score of at least 80 percent in the class.”

Klawiter added, “I would suggest this course to other students because you can learn a lot and it’s a lot of fun to see how everything works within a nursing home.”

If one is interested in taking the course, contact Jill Stewart-Kellar, the Health Science Magnet Coordinator, at 763-391-8749 ext. 32145 or at kellarj@district279.org.

Opportunity is knocking, it’s time to answer the door.

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