Did you know many of our Direct Care Workers (DCW) and Certified Nurse Aides (CNA) continue their education and training to become Licensed Practical (LPN) or Registered Nurses (RN)? DCW Heroes helps individuals with training, gaining employment and experience as a DCW or a CNA. DCW Career Coaches can also help with understanding the nursing career ladder, setting goals and providing referrals to LPN and RN training providers and connecting with financial aid resources.
DCW Heroes currently has a number of participants that started as DCW’s and are moving up the nursing career pathway. Check out a few of their stories below. DCW Hero's is proud to assist them on their healthcare career journey.
Folake is now a Certified Nursing Assistant
Folake came to DCW Heroes in the spring of 2021 with a dream of being in the nursing profession. She knew she wanted to help people and work in the nursing field, but wasn't sure how to make it happen. Her DCW Career Coach, Soniris Arroyo, assisted her with making a career and training plan and she finally obtained her credentials as a nurse aide. Coming to DCW Heroes as an English as a Second Language (ESL) learner, Folake knew nurse aide training was going to be a challenge. Soniris referred her to the local ESL program so she could build her English language skills prior to training. Soniris also enrolled Folake in the DCW online Professional Care Worker training so she could build her skills and prepare for nurse aide training. Together they found a local nurse aide training class through Dauphin County Technical School in Harrisburg. After successful completion of the nurse aide training, Soniris connected Folake to the DCW Heroes Healthcare Education Coordinator, Linda Walker, who worked with Folake to prepare for the exam to become a Certified Nurse Aide. In March 2022, Folake passed her certification exam and is currently working at CT Home Care Services as a Care Aide.
Folake’s persistence, willingness to learn and determination to reach her goals, combined with the support of the DCW Heroes program allowed her to reach her training and career goals.
Folake said “Soniris is like a daughter to me. I really want to give my appreciation to her and dedicate this certificate to her, for her support, her time, going out of her busy schedule to satisfy me, all her support for me to pass, and to God be the Glory …. I did it! Thank you. I also want to say thank you to Linda. To a great mother that has the heart of God, I say thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement preparing me for the examination. I believed in your words and I kept the words you told me that day!"
Kaitlyn Stahl and Alexis Fiedler advancing on a healthcare career ladder at the CSLPNCC
Sherri started as a Direct Care Worker (DCW), then moved up the career ladder to become a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) working at My Home Care. She recently started LPN training at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Pleasant Gap.
Ashley started her career as a CNA and works at Geisinger Medical Center. She is currently in LPN training at the Central Susquehanna LPN Career Center (CSLPNCC) in Milton and is set to graduate in August of 2022.
Alexis currently works at RiverWoods Senior Living Community as a CNA and recently started the part-time LPN program at the CSLPNCC.
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology Graduates
Seven DCW Heroes participants recently graduated from the part-time Nurse Aide Training Program that was held in the evenings at Central PA Institute of Science and Technology (CPI) with a weekend clinical at Susque View Home Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The part-time training allowed students to continue work while completing the training. The group graduated on December 9, 2021 and took their state certification exam on December 17 to become Certified Nursing Assistants. Many have already gained healthcare employment working for a variety of healthcare employers including Mount Nittany Medical Center, Harmony Senior Services and My Home Care, LLC.
DCW Heroes was able to support these individuals in entering and preparing for the training program by providing tuition support, tutoring for their certification exams and opportunities for additional skills with online micro-credentials.
When asked how the program impacted their lives they had the following to say:
“My Aunt worked in healthcare and I wanted to follow in her footsteps, I love helping people! The program taught me the skills I needed.” -Summer
“I became inspired to work in healthcare because of the impact I could make in people’s lives. After my first job in healthcare I moved and started down a different path but healthcare never left my mind and I had to go back! This program gave me the chance and push I've been needing. Knowing I was helping others made me happier than anything else I have done for work. Rewarding to say the least! I'm happy to have graduated and already found a new job! I am grateful for the chance I have been given and the people who helped me along the way. I will continue to pay it forward." -Casey
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that this program has offered me at this time as well as the support and encouragement to go back to school and enhance my knowledge in the medical field. Thank you!" -Carmen
DCW Heroes is proud of all their accomplishments and continues to support them in their healthcare career journey!
DCW Heroes participants - back row; L to R: Lisa, Patricia, Sherri, Carmen; bottom row; L to R: Casey, Kylynne and Summer recently completed the part-time Nurse Aide Training Program at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI).
With 20 years of experience in direct care work, Tamika knew she wanted to do more. Moving from Coatesville to Williamsport in 2019, Tamika found herself unable to find stable, affordable housing. She enrolled in the YMCA homeless program while on a waitlist for available housing. During that time, she enrolled in the CSIU WATCH project in order to obtain her CNA, then the pandemic hit and nurse aide classes came to a close and WATCH came to an end. She found herself unable to get out of her current situation any time soon. Tamika then enrolled in DCW Heroes where she learned she could complete her Temporary Nurse Aide training and obtain a waiver to work as a nurse aide while classes were at a standstill. Still wanting to become a CNA she worked with her DCW career coach to apply at the Williamsport Home who offers an in-facility nurse aide training for their employees. She gained employment there, completed the Nurse Aide Training Program and will take the certification exam soon to finally obtain her CNA. In the meantime, with stable employment Tamika was able to secure her own housing. She is inspired to continue learning and is currently working on building her skills with the DCW micro-credential trainings.
When asked how DCW Heroes has helped her, Tamika said, “DCW Heroes has helped my self-esteem and working with Tammie (DCW Career Coach) made me feel like someone does care and that makes a huge difference when you face being homeless and hopeless and recovering from abuse. It helps the spirit recover and have faith again!”
Bloomsburg resident Annamaria Naszali-Lipan desired a career in the medical field. She knew it would provide stability and the opportunity for upward mobility. Annamaria was working as an administrative assistant for a local company, but knew that enrolling in DCW Heroes and the WATCH Project would provide her the opportunity to complete healthcare training and provide a bridge to a career in healthcare.
Annamaria completed the Professional Care Worker training but knew that her healthcare training goals were not yet met. Her Career Pathway Specialist, Kim Renz, referred her to a Nurse Aide training as an employee of UPMC Muncy where she could be paid to train. After completing her training, she took the afternoon nurse assistant shift which allowed her the flexibility to also keep her part-time administrative assistant position.
DCW Heroes assisted her with obtaining clearances, uniforms, and shoes for healthcare employment. She also earned $95 in DCW Heroes incentives for completing an online healthcare orientation, the Temporary Nurse Aide (TNA) certification, the Personal Care Worker (PCW) training, and gaining healthcare employment. These incentives added to her overall income while she was in training. With many DCW trainings offered online, she could continue to work at her current job while continuing to build her healthcare skills and credentials.
Although her wages as an administrative assistant were comparable to the entry-level CNA wage at the hospital, Annamaria knew there would be more job stability, more opportunity for career advancement, and better benefits through full-time employment in healthcare. She also knew there would be a path to higher wages in the future with the regional healthcare career pathway. She has recently enrolled in the Lock Haven University Phlebotomy program to continue to build her skills while stacking industry credentials.
Annamaria said, “Early on in my CNA training, I decided I would continue to grow in the healthcare field.”
Annamaria is currently waiting to take the skills portion of the nurse aide certification exam. Due to a recent knee surgery, she was only able to complete the written portion. Now cleared from her doctor, she can work with her DCW Heroes Career Coach to get the last part of her test scheduled to become a Certified Nurse Aide.
Toni came to the DCW Heroes program already working as a Direct Care Worker employee for Almond Tree Senior Solutions, LLC, an in-home healthcare provider in McAlisterville. Her goal was to continue building her skills and knowledge in healthcare and enrolling in the DCW Heroes Professional Care Worker online training. Once completed, she was interested in moving up the healthcare career ladder to become a certified nurse aide (CNA). Toni’s DCW Heroes Career Coach, Soniris Arroyo, assisted her in enrolling in the PDE Nurse Aide Training Program at The Academy, Lewistown, Pa. After gaining her nurse aide certification, Toni advanced with Almond Tree Senior Solution, LLC, and began working as a CNA, adding to her hourly rate! Wanting to continue building her healthcare knowledge, Toni is currently enrolled in the DCW Heroes Geriatric/Dementia micro-credential online course. With DCW Heroes, Toni has the ability to continue learning and growing in her career while continuing to work as an in-home care CNA.
Toni had this to say about the program and the support from her career coach, “DCW Heroes is an excellent program. It helped me pursue my career in the healthcare field and gave me the tools to be prepared. Through it, I was able to get my CNA which is something I've wanted for a while and this program helped me every step of the way. My career coach, Soniris, is the sweetest and very helpful. She was and still is always there to answer any questions I have. I can't say enough good things about her and this program.”
Aspen Thompson is one of our DCW Heroes. She came to the program already working as a Home Health Aide and had a goal of becoming a nurse aide. With classes currently limited for nurse aides due to the pandemic she wasn’t sure how to meet this goal. Through her DCW Heroes Career Coach, Christine Hornberger, she learned about the Temporary Nurse Aide waiver (TNA) that would allow her to work as a nurse aide. Aspen completed the training and Christine assisted her with applying to nursing homes in the area with open positions. They explored a number of employment options together and Aspen now works at Manor Care in Jersey Shore as a TNA!
DCW Heroes assisted Aspen with completing and paying for her Pennsylvania Criminal background check which is needed to work in healthcare, supported her through the TNA training and assisted with gaining nurse aide employment. Aspen would like to continue her career in healthcare with a future goal of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse. Aspen is also enrolled in the federally funded WATCH project that will be able to assist Aspen with this goal.
Aspen’s Career Coach, Christine says “Aspen’s warm, friendly personality is immediately contagious to all those around her, and her genuine desire to help others is reflected in her word and actions.” When asked how she likes her job so far, she said, “I’m busy, it is very fast paced, but it’s fun, and I am loving the residents!”
East Stroudsburg resident Angelina Augugliaro is currently a part of the accelerated Physician Assistant Program at Thomas Jefferson University. She enrolled with DCW Heroes in the hopes of gaining valuable contact hours, training, and experience in working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), with her ultimate goal of becoming a Physician Assistant.
During Angelina’s summer break from college, she attended and successfully completed a Nurse Aide Training Program through Stroudsburg Institute of Health and Allied Services. She was then able to pass the nurse aide exam to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. This allowed her to gain employment as a CNA through Slate Belt Health and Rehabilitation Center. Angelina described the favorite part of her experience in working with the residents, “I love talking with and building relationships with them. It is an honor to take care of and support people who might not have anyone to lean on.”
DCW Heroes assisted with Angelina’s nurse aide tuition, uniform, shoes, supply costs, obtaining her PA criminal clearance, and the cost to take the certification exam. Workforce Career Coach, David Morales, then assisted in signing Angelina up for both the first aid and CPR trainings, which DCW Heroes was also able to fund. Upon successful completion of all these trainings Angelina was able to earn $95 in DCW Heroes incentives.
Angelina recently returned to college to finish her last year of undergraduate courses. She is currently studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas. While there, she will be taking medical Spanish, genetics, and classes about the Costa Rican health care system and Botany in pursuing her goal of becoming a Physician Assistant. She plans to return to Slate Belt in December to continue her work as a CNA.
“I want to give a big thanks to the DCW Heroes Program. Without you guys, I would have never been able to afford my program. I would never have been able to get my certification and earn patient contact hours, which I needed to apply to PA (physician assistant) school. Also, I would have never gotten to care for and become friends with my residents at Slate Belt.”