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Education 2024: A-B Tech Nursing Students Are Learning to Care at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community

CNA Lauren Olander and resident Imogene Cissie Stevens. Photo by Don Perkins

Since the early 2000s, Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community has been a clinical site for students in the nurse aide program at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech). “The clinical experience allows the nurse aide students to receive hands-on training and implementation of skills learned in the classroom,” says Cindy Clampett, Deerfield’s director of nursing. “For some nurse aide students whose goal is to become a nurse, obtaining a CNA certification is a requirement for many Registered Nurse and Licensed Practical Nurse educational programs. Perhaps more importantly, the CNA clinical experience allows the nurse aide students to ensure this is the pathway they want to take for their future goals and aspirations.”

Resident Pat Propst and CNA Marcel Melinetskiy. Photo by Don Perkins

Nurse aide students come to Deerfield on a scheduled basis along with their instructors and work alongside employees of Deerfield. “It is an amazing opportunity for Deerfield employees to be able to give back to others,” says Clampett. “It allows the employees to assist others in learning, provide motivation and support and to share knowledge. Another important benefit is that our residents are able to meet new people and work together with them while receiving care. To many of our residents, educational growth is very important, and they encourage ongoing education.”

For the safety of the residents, all students must show proficiency in all skills before they’re allowed to engage at the clinical site. The long-standing relationship between A-B Tech and Deerfield provides a superior experience for both residents and nursing aide students. “Deerfield has always been a welcoming agency to our students and instructors,” says Teresa Robinson, associate director of health occupations at A-B Tech. “Their nursing administration team starts working early with us to get students approved and oriented to the site, so on the first day of clinical rotation, nerves are a little more settled.”

While the clinicals are a chance for students to practice tangible skills they will use in the workplace, it’s also a journey of self-discovery. “Deerfield provides an environment where clinicals are experiences for learning what it means to care,” says Robinson. “They find out if they truly have enough heart to care about someone else that can’t help themselves.”

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