Paving Her Path to Success

Published: October 18, 2023

Have you ever wondered where a dream can take you? For College of Western Idaho (CWI) student, Kendra Zirschky, it all began in a high school class about parenting and child development. Her fascination with the human body and a desire to make a difference inspired her to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) while still in high school.

Zirschky took CNA courses at Skyview High School in Nampa, while completing her skills and written exams through CWI.

After graduating high school and earning her CNA certification in 2020, Zirschky began working at a long-term care and rehabilitation facility. Here, she discovered her passion for caring for those in need, which deepened her desire to become a nurse.

When Kendra decided to advance her education and pursue a nursing career, she researched various schools in the Treasure Valley. She was drawn to CWI's Practical Nursing (PN) program because of its one-year course duration and cost-effectiveness compared to other institutions in the area.

“Since I have been a CNA in long-term care facilities for the last three years, I have worked with many amazing LPNs,” Zirschky said. “I have always respected their role in patient care and when I saw CWI had a PN program, I was interested in starting my nursing career here.”

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) play a crucial role in healthcare. They provide patient care, education, and emotional support, not only to the patients but also to their loved ones. They also collaborate with providers and other healthcare team members to record patient health histories and symptoms, assist with diagnostic tests, operate medical equipment, administer medications and treatments, and ensure patient follow-up. Their compassionate presence is a source of comfort during challenging times.

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Employment of LPNs is projected to grow five percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. About 54,400 openings for the occupation are projected each year, faster than average, over the next decade.

“Another benefit of the PN program is that when I am finished, I can immediately apply my nursing skills and knowledge and earn increased wages – it also allows for an easy transition into Registered Nursing if and when I decide to move forward.”

Another aspect that attracted Zirschky to CWI was the PN program's impressive skills laboratories, simulation rooms, and in-depth curriculum. With a combination of theory, laboratory instruction, and hands-on clinical experience, the PN certificate will equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to become an LPN.

Now in her third semester of the program, Zirschky can attest to how the program's resources and learning experiences help prepare students for a successful future career.

“The advanced technology and resources provided to the PN program allow us to practice hands-on skills and practice real-life simulations without the pressure of a grade or making mistakes that harm patient care. From my mom’s outside perspective, she says that she has been surprised and impressed with the amount of growth and learning that CWI has given me in such an accelerated time.”

While the workload can be demanding at times, Zirschky also attributes her success in the program to the instructors who have guided her and her fellow students over the past year. She feels the instructors are genuinely supportive and great resources to help students master the knowledge to become LPNs.

“Instructor, Melanie Gier, has exceeded my expectations as she has been such a great role model for me as a Practical Nursing student. She portrays many of the essential characteristics of a great nurse. She checks up on us often, always has a positive attitude and therapeutic presence, and is very professional. She plays a huge role in helping us to achieve our dreams of being the best nurses we can be.”

As she prepares for program completion in December, Zirschky feels confident and ready to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become an LPN. Through CWI, she has been given her the platform to explore her potential and find the motivation to achieve her dreams.

“I truly believe that nursing is my calling, and I am so grateful to CWI for giving me the chance to showcase what I’m capable of. The PN program is not only a great stepping stone into nursing but also a great ending place for a lifelong career as an LPN.”

The application period for CWI’s PN program’s Spring 2024 cohort is open through Wednesday, Nov. 1. The program requires a supplemental application process in addition to applying for admission to CWI. Details on the application process and program requirements are available on the Practical Nursing program page.

The program is approved by the Idaho State Board of Nursing, and upon satisfactory completion of the program, NCLEX-PN exam to become an LPN.

For questions about applying to the Practical Nursing program, contact your Student Success Advisor or instructors within the Practical Nursing program.

Apply for the Practical Nursing program

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