For a second year, Aase Haugen Senior Services, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), and Decorah High School have teamed up to offer a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program in the high school. “The health care industry is exploding with new health care job opportunities and most professions require students earn their CNA prior to, or in concurrence with, their college coursework,” says Julie Jevne, NICC health success coach. “It’s a win-win situation for Decorah students as they can earn high school graduation credit and take care of pre-requisites for many college health care careers.”
“We are pleased to once again partner with Aase Hagen and NICC to offer the CNA class to our students in the high school setting, which makes it possible for more students to access the course,” says Kim Sheppard, Decorah High School Principal. “Each time the class meets, the students share how excited they are to learn new skills and begin their career paths in the health care industry.”
This semester, sixteen students have signed up for the class at the high school at no additional cost to them. “In addition to paying for the certifications for the students, Aase Haugen offers to hire the students as Environmental Aids while they are earning the certification,” says Tiffany Ackerman, Aase Haugen Personnel Director. “We are able to offer competitive wages and incremental increases in pay, plus other benefits once the students achieve certification.” NICC’s instructor for classroom work is Lisa Hicken, RN, and Aase Haugen nurses, Jenifer Mtisi, RN and Jennifer Klingeman, RN, will teach the lab sessions at Aase’s nursing home.
As students explore their interest in health care, the course also benefits senior living organizations by increasing the number of local CNAs who can join the workforce. “It appears Decorah is becoming a retirement destination,” says Patty Casterton, Aase Haugen Business Development Director. “And it’s not just senior living organizations who can benefit from the influx of retirement aged people – restaurants, leisure services, home health services, and others will also benefit. But we all face the challenge of recruiting quality staff into our businesses to serve the needs of the population. Sponsoring this class is one way we can help youth in our community and support the needs of our local health care workforce.”

The new 2020 Certified Nursing Assistant course is underway at Decorah High School, thanks to cooperation between the school, Aase Haugen Senior Services and Northeast Iowa Community College. This year there are sixteen students enrolled for high school and college credit from the course. Students pictured from left, first row, include: Amie Holzer, Lexi Hauber, Mya Numedahl, Taryn Sanderman, Cady Peterson, Lydia Hotvedt, Emma Buddenberg. 2nd Row: Ella Runestad, Isabella Knutson, Cora Syverson, Samantha Gerard, Grace Gerleman, MiKenna Martin, Samantha See, Abby Milburn, Olivia Mettille.