High school students train as certified nursing assistants

A student takes another's pulse as she demonstrates her skill to instructor Arlene Jech at Immaculate Conception Academy's certified nursing assistant program. (Jewish Senior Living Magazine/Alain McLaughlin)

On a foggy Saturday morning in the city’s Outer Sunset district, Cassandra Raul, 16, boarded the first of three buses that would take her across town to the Jewish Home of San Francisco. It was 6:30 a.m. She had to arrive by 8 a.m. to join nine other juniors from Immaculate Conception Academy who also travel there each week for their clinical practicum to become certified nursing assistants.

The 10 students formed the first cohort of the certified nursing assistant program at the all-girls Cristo Rey school. The program is not part of the regular academic/work-study curriculum that is required at all Cristo Rey high schools. Rather, it is an addendum offered to a select group of students who have good academic standing and keen interest in becoming nurses or other health care professionals.

The program, launched in June 2014, is the brainchild of Jesuit Fr. Timothy Godfrey, a registered nurse and assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of San Francisco. A second cohort of 12 girls is now in the program and a third will begin forming in February.

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