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WNC Business

Responding to the healthcare workforce need with clear pathways to success

Jul 31, 2023 04:53PM ● By WNC Business

California native Rachel Ann Draughon moved to Western North Carolina after her husband completed his military service. His hometown, Hendersonville, is where they decided to raise their family of three. But after their kids left home and COVID-19 hit, Rachel, 51, felt something was missing from her life. She talked to her sister, a registered nurse, who mentioned there was a great shortage of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). This is where Rachel’s career journey began.

Rachel enrolled in Blue Ridge Community College’s Nurse Aide I course, which introduced her to basic nursing skills. This was followed by the Nurse Aide II course, which took a deeper dive into the clinical side of nursing. After Rachel completed her clinicals, Pardee UNC Health Care employed her full-time in its hospital.

“It’s been such a wonderful experience,” she said. “Blue Ridge not only teaches you the skills you need to be successful as a CNA, they also ensure that you’re prepared for what’s ahead. The instruction was fabulous and at no point were we provided with false ideas of what the work would be like.”

Rachel shared that Blue Ridge brought in people from a variety of healthcare settings to talk with students and ensure they knew what they were getting into as working CNAs. The program also linked students to real-world scenarios and helped them to understand the patient population.

Rachel said that Blue Ridge was invaluable in connecting students with employers.

“Even before I completed my coursework, job opportunities were being shared with me,” she explained.

Rachel’s education was supported with a Brighter Future Scholarship which paid for her Nurse Aide II and EKG courses. She is interested in pursuing a career in nursing, and these courses provide a solid foundation for her journey.

“I want to continue learning as much as I can. I’m so grateful for everything that Blue Ridge has done for me,” she said. “I’m not only financially independent now, but my heart is full. I know I’m making a difference.”

Read more stories like Draughon’s featured in Blue Ridge Community College’s 2021-22 annual report. This report and others are available online on the About Blue Ridge webpage.

Photo by Rich Keen, Marketing and Communications Dept.