A big win for senior care in Decorah


CNA class

Tiffany Lundvedt, RN, BSN, is the instructor for the new Certified Nursing Assistant program at Decorah High School. Tiffany is a MDS Nurse leader at Aase Haugen Senior Services and an instructor with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC). “I’m excited to work with this class of students in Decorah Schools,” says Tiffany. “Health care occupations are top choices for high school graduates, and we’re pleased to work with NICC to be able to conveniently provide CNA curriculum at the high school with a new lab at Aase Haugen.” Pictured front row from left, Patty Casterton, Aase Haugen Business Development Director, Emma Rolfs, Elise Miller, Kari Tangen, Kim Sheppard, Decorah High School Principal. Back row from left, Tiffany Lundtvedt, Arielle Gossman, Kaityln Schnitzler, Amanda Kuehner, Kalea Oftedahl, and Julie Jevne, NICC Career Success Coach.

January 17, 2019


Decorah High School kicks off first CNA course in cooperation with NICC and Aase Haugen

Decorah High School, Aase Haugen Senior Services, and Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) have teamed up to offer a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program in Decorah High School – which is an important asset for the future of senior living in Decorah.

How can offering a high school class affect senior living? “The population of baby boomers across the nation entering retirement is exploding,” says Aase Haugen Executive Director, Jeffrey K. Schmidt. “And it’s no secret that Decorah is fast becoming a retirement destination. But that comes with challenges, and one of the biggest is workforce. We’re not alone in the business culture of Decorah when we say we have trouble finding entry level staff – you can see this reflected in the classifieds each week. But we’re focused on changing that for senior care.”

The new CNA class programming at Decorah High School is specifically tailored to meet the needs of their student population. The new high school block scheduling and continued partnership with NICC allows students to take the class while still being involved in their favorite high school activities and experiences. “Decorah kids work hard and play hard. Not only are they outstanding academic achievers, but they excel in their extracurricular activities in sports and the fine arts as well,” says Kim Sheppard, Decorah High School principal. “This can be a challenge when it comes to finding a part-time job or free time to learn something new, but thanks to support from Aase Haugen and NICC, we were able to offer the CNA course as a class option during the school day.”

In addition to making it convenient for students to earn certification during the school day, Aase Haugen created a lab in their facility on Ohio Street. Students looking to earn a good wage also benefit from flexible scheduling at Aase Haugen, so they are able to fit a good paying part-time job into their life. “Aase Haugen offers to hire the students as Environmental Aids while they are earning the certification,” says Patty Casterton, AHSS business development director. “We are leading the way as the largest nursing facility in the area with competitive wages and incremental increases in pay, plus other benefits once they achieve certification.”

“Working together with Decorah High School and Aase Haugen is such a positive experience,” says Julie Jevne, NICC health success coach. “The health care industry is exploding with new job opportunities and most professions require students earn their CNA prior to, or in concurrence with, their college coursework. It’s a win-win situation for Decorah students as they earn high school graduation credit and take care of pre-requisites for many college health care careers.”

This semester, seven students have signed up for the class at the high school at no additional cost to them. “We are pleased to provide scholarships to students who are interested in completing the CNA class,” says Casterton. “Whether the students realize it or not, they are extremely important to our community. And when they fly from the nest – as many will – they will have the health care experience they need to find a job anywhere they choose to go.”