A passion for taking care of others led Tanira Kingsberry to take her career a step further in the healthcare industry. Working as a dietary aide and getting to know the patients as well as the nurses peaked her interest in becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to help her reach her ultimate goal of being a physician’s assistant. She took the first step by calling Charlotte Works to find out about training programs and opportunities.
We spoke with Tanira Kingsberry about landing a job as a certified nursing assistant (CNAII) after participating in the Chosen Healthcare Institute’s CNA training program.
Charlotte Works (CW):Were you unemployed or what was your previous position before starting the training program?
Tanira Kingsberry (TK): I was actually with Atrium working in dietary. I always worked on the floors just in a different aspect, instead I was serving them their food and following their dietary orders. I worked in dietary for 5 years and I knew all of the nurses and nurse managers. A lot of them pushed me to go to CNA school so they could hire me.
CW: What made you want to pursue the CNA program at Chosen Healthcare Institute?
TK: My plan was always to go into nursing or some type of healthcare field. I just decided to just start that path because as a nurse you have to have CNA I anyway, so I was like I’ll just start there and get it done. I know it’s a job that is always there because healthcare is never going to go anywhere.
CW: How has going through the program helped with your career?
TK: I’m in nursing school. Once I got into my job, I started nursing school [at Central Piedmont Community College] and felt like this is really what I want to do after working at the hospital. I have been at Carolinas Medical Center [Atrium Health] for over a year now.
CW: What are your job duties as a CNA II?
TK: As CNA’s, we are responsible for assisting the nurses, making sure the patients are comfortable and have everything they need. We take their vitals as well as helping family members. We also are assisting with regular activities like going to the bathroom. We’re making sure they can safely get in and out of bed, and making sure they know all the safety rules in the room. If they need to be fed, we feed them. If they need to be changed, we change them. Since I’m a CNA II, I help the nurses with hanging the IV bags and taking out IV’s and tracheostomy [procedures]. I’m the only CNA II at night on my floor, so I have a little more responsibility than everybody else.
CW: What are some of the biggest lessons learned from the training to landing your job?
TK: It takes a big heart and a lot of patience to be a CNA. Whether you are working with a lot of patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or working with people’s families, and then working with patients that have some type of sickness; you have to understand that they are there because they are sick. You have to have patience with them, have kindness, and a big heart. If it’s not for you then don’t do it, because you are taking care of someone that is really sick. Families can be rude sometimes, patients can be mean sometimes, but you can’t take it heart. You just have to accept it. If you have a passion for it, then it will go right over your head. Usually when people start to heal or are about to go home, they become the sweetest people. It’s not for everybody.
CW: How did you hear about Charlotte Works?
TK: I was looking online and doing research and the classes were really expensive for me because I’m a single mom and had bills to pay and couldn’t really pay for that and pay for bills at home. So, I kept looking to see what programs that could help a single parent that is willing to go to school. Charlotte Works popped up, so then I called and they were like come for orientation and see if you want to do it. I went to the orientation and it was a process, it took 3 to 4 months.
When did you start your CNA II job?
TK: January 23, 2017.
Were you a CNA II first?
TK: Yes, you have to get your CNA I first, take a field test, and a written exam, and once you pass that then you can take the CNA II classes which is another 4 weeks and then your nursing instructor puts your name into the system once you pass.
CW: What is the most important thing people need to know about your training and your experience with the NCWorks Career Center?
TK: It’s a process. You just have to be patient and I was going to give up because it was taking so long. All of the case workers were very helpful. They didn’t just think about my career, they asked questions about my home life and if I needed anything. They were always reaching out to me constantly asking how things were going or how I felt about the class or if anything was wrong. I would recommend the program to others. I was a little upset that they cut the program short, and I just missed a class where Charlotte Works was paying for all of the classes, I was in the group under it. A lot of people didn’t pay for the classes, they stopped going, and it was wasting funding for people that really wanted to go. It’s an opportunity that you need to take if you don’t have the money to do it. I was mad that people weren’t appreciating it, especially when you have single mothers like me that wants to further my career and needs help to do it because they aren’t financially able. Everyone was super helpful.
CW: How long was the training program?
TK: I finished in about five months, then the CNA II [program] was about 6 weeks. Once you take your clinicals and take your tests, it goes by fast.
CW: What advice do you have for those thinking of pursing the same career pathway?
TK: If you can, go for it and don’t give up. I’m in nursing school now, and there’s not a lot of programs that will help, so just appreciate what we can get.
CW: Once you finish nursing school, what are your future career plans?
TK: My goal is to go PA (physician’s assistant) school to become a doctor’s assistant. It’s difficult but you have to the heart for it. Sometimes you run across a patient that makes you realize you love what you do.
Tanira Kingsberry is one of the many success stories representing Charlotte Works’ Careers4All initiative where one of its guiding principles is that all career-seekers have access to education that aligns with employer opportunities. Read more about the Careers4All strategy on our website.