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Now, more than ever, healthcare workers are in demand. To help fulfill this need, Goodwill Columbus Workforce Development is on the forefront of training credentialed STNAs (State Tested Nurse Aides).

In Goodwill’s four-week STNA course, students receive 75 hours of classroom, lab, and hands-on clinical preparation time learning the fundamentals of patient care for clients in long-term and acute care facilities. The coursework includes the basics of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, diseases, medical terminology, medical equipment use, safety skills including CPR, and effective patient communication. Following this coursework, students must pass a state-administered competency evaluation test to become a certified STNA.

“The STNA program is an entry into the nursing profession,” said Goodwill Program Angie Hampton. “All nurses in the State of Ohio are required to be a certified STNA in order to become an LPN or RN.”

In 2020, 36 students completed Goodwill’s STNA program, becoming front line healthcare professionals. Pamela Bennett was one of those students. Despite challenges posed by a pandemic, Pamela was determined to achieve her dream of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). 

A great listener and compassionate person with the ability to lift up others, Pamela never felt her accounting degree was the right fit. So, she decided to follow her heart and pursue a career in nursing.

For 20 years, Pamela worked as a health aide for assisted living, hospice and mental health organizations. While living in New Jersey, she pursued her LPN and was one class shy of finishing her degree. When a personal relationship went bad, Pamela moved to Ohio to forge a new path and complete her degree.

Unfortunately, due to state regulations and certification requirements, none of her LPN credits were accepted in Ohio. Pamela was back to square one.

One day, while riding the bus to her job at a local nursing facility, she heard an ad for Goodwill’s STNA program. Not willing to give up on her dream, Pamela took the next step in her journey and joined Goodwill’s STNA class in March 2020.

When Angie met Pamela, she was homeless, living in a hotel, and working part-time as a home health aide. “I had just enough money to pay for the hotel room and nothing else,” said Pamela. “Angie was so essential to me during that time, connecting me with services in the community that provided food and transportation.”

Four days a week, Pamela took the bus and walked an additional 45 minutes to get to work. The other three days, she took a bus across town to attend STNA classes. While attending classes, Pamela discovered the clinical labs in Columbus were being shut down due to the pandemic. Not one to be deterred, she united with her classmates and travelled to Cincinnati to complete her clinicals.

Pamela received her STNA certification in Spring 2020. She is currently employed at the Wexner Heritage Village, part of a team where she feels valued. “As an STNA, the most important thing is teamwork. If you have a strong nursing team, then giving care to those in need is much easier,” she said.

Pamela always puts her patients first. “I listen. I don’t judge anyone. I speak to every patient with respect. I look them in the eyes and communicate with them, sometimes even without words. I take a friendly approach and love to hug my patients. When they see I am listening and value them, they relax because they know I care,” Pamela added.

What’s next in Pamela’s journey? She is currently enrolled in the LPN program at Fortis College. “She is a testament to how far attitude and determination can take you,” said Angie.

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