A Conversation with Grace Hamilton ’22, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Nicole Letendre ’23

Features Editor

Grace Hamilton ‘22, a Biology major and Deaf Studies minor at Holy Cross, recently completed a CNA/HHA certification program at the Academy for Healthcare Training in Malden, Massachusetts. Pursuing a career as a Physician’s Assistant, Grace is a member of the HC SHAPE club, has participated in the Appa Spring Break Immersion Program, and enjoys Sign Language. Additionally, she enjoys learning Spanish and Italian, spending time gardening and cooking, and loves music and traveling! I had the opportunity to do a brief Q&A with this accomplished woman and learn more about her experience getting her CNA certification!

Photo courtesy of Grace Hamilton ’22, graphic design by Hui Li ’21 and Kim Fetherson ’22

What inspired you to take a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course, and how did you discover that particular program?

→Last summer I worked as a nursing assistant at a local Rest Home and I loved my time there. I wanted to become certified so that I could learn more skills and practice safer handling of my residents while learning how to treat them with the utmost dignity and respect. It is also a great starting point for getting experience in Hospitals and other healthcare settings! Because of the pandemic, I could not find any CNA programs but right as I was about to give up, I stumbled across this great course being held throughout the month of August and only one town away from mine 🙂 

What did the course experience entail, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?

→ For the first 2.5 weeks of August, our instructors lectured us remotely on all of the information we would need to know, prior to going in for classroom training. This meant logging onto Zoom from 8am-1pm Monday thru Friday. We learned about the most common conditions our patients might present as well as the types of care we would be administering most often. The last week and a half of class was held in-person. In the classroom, we practiced skills such as donning and doffing PPE, catheter care, transferring residents from bed to chair, taking blood pressure, and bathing. Then, we completed a clinical experience at Brighton House in Boston where we put our skills to the test and learned how to document the care we had given.  

What are your plans now that you are a CNA, and what do you hope to pursue in the future?

→ I’m hoping to work as a Patient Care Associate at a hospital in Boston. Any experience I can get is exciting, because it will make me a better communicator and care provider as I learn from the doctors, nurses, & PAs. My goal for after graduation is to be accepted into a Physician Assistant program and later work as a surgical PA! 🙂

When and how did you first become interested in the medical field, and if you could solve any medical question or problem, what would it be?

→ When I was young, I remember going to doctors appointments and just admiring my Pediatrician. He was very calm and good at talking to my siblings and I. I used to like watching all of the shows on the Discovery Health channel and was fascinated with surgery and how doctors could operate on patients with rare medical conditions like in the case of conjoined twins. I always felt that I wanted to be part of a medical team. 

→ I think it would be incredible to find an affordable and effective treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, especially one that could help those dealing with young onset cases. 

What advice do you have for prospective or current students interested in medicine, and looking for new opportunities to get involved?

→ I would say you should try to join any STEM club that you are actually interested in and get to know the people in it. You might have classes with them and make some good friends who have similar interests and you can motivate each other. Try not to be intimidated by how smart other students are – they could learn from you also so don’t compare yourself too much! At the same time, try out clubs and activities that aren’t science related so you don’t forget your other interests or get burnt out. My favorite thing I’ve done during my time at HC is Spring Break Immersion!

For all my perspective pre-med/health professions readers out there, take as many opportunities as you can to get involved, and gather new and meaningful experiences in the field! Grace, thank you for taking the time to do this little Q&A, and we’re wishing you all the best in your career goals!

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