Growing up, I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. I had dreams of becoming a SWAT officer. This changed when I started to care for my grandma as she grew ill. She constantly told me that I should care for others like I took care of her. From that moment on, my career ambitions changed drastically. I wanted to help people the way I helped my grandmother.
I enrolled in Ridgewood High School which offered a program for students aspiring to pursue a career in health care. During my senior year, Dan Frenden, Executive Director of the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of New Port Richey, came into my classroom to speak about Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certifications. After participating in a mock interview with Dan and conducting my clinicals at his facility, he offered me a position as a CNA at his facility and I have worked there for the last five years.
The experience I had with my grandma showed me what it meant for patients to feel like the person taking care of them loved them. That’s why I have approached my career in long-term care with love and compassion. In this way, the patients I care for feel like their grandchild is taking care of them. As a result, I’ve grown personally and professionally in ways I could have never imagined.
Florida is facing a critical need for CNAs who make a vital impact on quality care and quality of life for the seniors and people living with disabilities residing in our state’s skilled nursing centers. Since the start of the pandemic, nursing centers have lost nearly 238,000 employees. In Florida alone, that accounts for nearly 10,000 jobs lost. While this workforce shortage has strained current employees and their long-term care facilities, it has also created an environment to strengthen the CNA talent pipeline through training and immediate hiring.
Pursuing a career in long-term care goes beyond training and certifications. Compassion for the elderly and a passion for caring for others are necessary assets to be successful in one of the hardest but most rewarding career paths. Although I started as a CNA, I am already a staffing coordinator and hope to be a Director of Nursing one day.
Being a CNA is full of life-changing relationships, unique learning experiences, and abundant opportunities for quick advancement. To start your pathway to becoming a CNA, sign up for the CaregiversFL Career Program. The Florida Health Care Education and Development Foundation and the state of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration created this initiative to address the current CNA shortage in long-term care facilities. Through this Program, job seekers will find training programs, opportunities for on-the-job training with a paycheck, and open CNA positions in their area.
I hope more individuals take advantage of the resources available through the CaregiversFL Career Program to seek a career pathway into the long-term care profession. Recruiting for Florida’s toughest and most rewarding job is a collaborative effort, and it is critical for the future of our state’s senior care. The CaregiversFL Career Program is a testament to the many important partnerships it takes to build and maintain a strong healthcare workforce. Job seekers can sign up to get hired or learn more at florida.carefortheaging.org/job-seekers.