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Teens Share Benefits of Working at Benedictine Ellendale

Group photo of teens who work at Benedictine Ellendale.
Kali Norton (of Ellendale), Mya Glynn (of Ellendale), Jack Bommersbach (of Ellendale), McKenna Glynn (of Ellendale), Rachael Scheffert (of Oakes), Hannah Seefeld (of Ellendale) (not picured: Sara Young; see separate photo of her)

The demand for workers in the health care field is higher than ever and expected to keep growing.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US economy is projected to add nearly 4.7 million jobs total from 2022 to 2032.  Of these, the health care and social assistance sector is projected to grow the most quickly, creating about 45% of projected job gains from 2022 to 2032.

A main factor contributing to the demand for health care workers is an aging population.  According to the 2020 US Census, the number of people age 65 and older was up 38.6% from 2010, its fastest growth rate ever.

The high demand for health care workers has led several teens in Ellendale and surrounding communities to get a jump start on their career aspirations by a becoming CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) in high school.  One student was able to receive high school credit for taking a health careers class while also working as a CNA.  Some got a head start on patient care hours for college.  Others may not end up in health care but are doing it for job experience to help build their resume, while enjoying flexible schedules and high pay starting at $18.50 an hour and up.

Photo of Sara Young
Sara Young (of Ellendale)

All learned meaningful life skills that will help in any career or job they pursue.  Here they share their insights from working at Benedictine Living Community-Ellendale.

McKenna Glynn, age 18, daughter of Jeff and Alicia Glynn

I began working at Benedictine Ellendale as a universal worker/nursing assistant at Evergreen Place in October 2021.  I really enjoyed working with the residents at Evergreen, which made me realize I wanted to get my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license and help the residents even more.  I got my CNA license and then started working as a CNA at Benedictine Ellendale in November 2022.  The CNA Class was very beneficial as it allowed me to pass the class on the first try.  Benedictine Ellendale paid for the cost of the training class and I received payment for attending!  The training greatly helped me pass the exam on the first try, especially the skills portion.  I had previously taken medical terminology in high school which helped me during the written test, but going to the skills lab and performing all the skills before the exam was extremely helpful.  Doing the hands-on skills really put into perspective what the job entails, and helped me get a better understanding how to perform the skills.

The daily activities I perform as a CNA include transporting residents to different locations, assisting them with bathing, dressing, feeding, and taking them to the bathroom.  Other tasks include helping residents maintain good hygiene and a clean environment, taking vital signs, and answering call lights. Every day is so different.  There is never a dull moment, and the residents are a joy to be around.  When there is down time, being able to sit down and visit with some of the residents is very enjoyable as they all have such fun personalities, and it’s so great getting to know them better.

There are many skills needed to become a good CNA such as a good work ethic, flexibility, attention to detail, and communication. With these skills, you can adapt very well to different challenges of the job. All of these skills will be greatly beneficial as I continue my education at the University of North Dakota and pursue a degree in Nursing with a focus on pre-Physician Assistant studies.

Becoming a CNA in high school was one of the best decisions I made.  It taught me countless skills and lessons.  I have become more adaptable and flexible and learned a lot about nursing.  It greatly helped my communication skills and overall work ethic.  It allowed me to get patient care hours, build my resume, and gain valuable work experience in the medical field.  It is a good idea for anyone who is considering a career in health care, as it provides excellent experience and a good introduction to the field of Nursing and Medicine.

Benedictine was very flexible with my schedule while I was in high school. They scheduled me when I was available which let me continue to be in sports such as track, cross county and golf, and not miss out on important activities.  Benedictine Ellendale is a very welcoming place to work.  Everyone there is kind and willing to help out.

Hannah Seefeld, age 19, daughter of Ross and Darcy Seefeld

I started working at Benedictine Ellendale as a maintenance technician during the spring and summer of 2020 while I was in high school.  After working as a maintenance tech, I fell in love with the residents and wanted to work directly with them.  Ann Moch encouraged me to become a CNA.  She told me I wouldn’t regret it and she was correct.

I took some individual lessons with Kay Kronberg, who taught me the basic skills for the CNA test.  I am very grateful she took the time out of her days to show me how to do techniques properly.  After getting certified as a CNA, I was trained by Carol Kautz, Nichole Koschney and Shanna Flath, who were all amazing and very passionate about their jobs.  They are some of the hardest workers around and taught me in-depth how to be the best CNA I could be.

As a CNA, I help residents with basic cares such as getting dressed, showering, doing their hair, and moving around.  I provide emotional support when residents need someone to talk to.  I help set up meals, clean the units, do laundry, and more.

My favorite part of the job is my one-on-one time with residents.  They are all my grandmas and grandpas, and I treat them as my own family.  The residents all have so many unique stories and can teach you so many valuable lessons.

Some of my favorite memories were on most Sunday afternoons, if football wasn’t on, we would have polka parties and dance around with some of the residents.  I was told I was a terrible dancer, but they still would always dance with me anyway.

Being a CNA has taught me to be more patient and compassionate to others and gave me a baseline for what working in health care is like.  I have also learned some harder lessons about the circle of life that have changed a lot of the ways I think, and these types of lessons have made me a better person.

It’s a great place to start if you are interested in pursuing a health care type career.  You learn so much working that will be very beneficial in the future, and gain knowledge and experience while also performing a rewarding job.  Being a CNA may not be for everyone, but there are still so many other positions at Benedictine you can work in like the kitchen, activities, housekeeping or maintenance.  Even if you don’t plan on pursuing a career in health care, it is still a very rewarding job that can teach you countless valuable lessons as you start to build a resume.

I love the staff at Benedictine Ellendale and how fun they are to be around.  We are usually laughing throughout the workdays, which always makes them go by faster.

Benedictine has extremely flexible hours, and it does pay very well for a starting wage.  You can pick the days and times you want to work, and as a student who did multiple extracurricular activities, I never had any issues with being able to work around my schedule.  I usually worked two weekends a month during sports seasons, and a few hours a week after practices were over if I wanted more hours.  Throughout high school, I was involved in FFA, FCCLA, SADD, Student Council, National Honor Society, basketball, volleyball, track and field, wrestling, one-act play, band and choir.  I also worked at CB’s and Ellendale Pharmacy.

Being a CNA in high school can help with a variety of future goals whether it be working in health care or with people in general.  I currently am attending school at The University of North Dakota for a degree in Biology, with plans for graduate school.  I plan on working in a research-based setting after obtaining my degree.

Rachael Scheffert, age 16, daughter of Harold and Gail Scheffert

I first started working as a CNA at Benedictine Ellendale in April 2023.  My sister Katheryn Kraft told me about a good opportunity with flexible hours.  I do a lot of charting and hygiene upkeep with the residents, along with making them more comfortable with light-hearted conversation.  I really like being a CNA.  I have great co-workers and bosses and enjoy the residents.  It’s a fun environment and has good shifts.  One memorable moment as a CNA was dancing polka with two of the residents.

I would recommend students in high school become CNAs.  It’s amazing and the people you are surrounded by are great and extremely helpful.  It’s valuable if you plan on going into the medical field, and it has been helpful with teaching me how to find solutions as well as about medical terms and treatment.  It has taught me patience and how to work efficiently.  I was able to be a CNA and enjoy time in high school, and still be active in drama, speech and golf.  My future plans are to go to college for Neuroscience and Nursing, hopefully at Georgia State.

Jack Bommersbach, age 18, son of Troy and Sonja Bommersbach

I first started working as a CNA at Benedictine Ellendale in June 2023.  I wanted to become a CNA because I enjoy the medical field and the pay is great.

The CNA Class did a good job of preparing me for the certification exam. The training was very helpful, informative and a great experience.  Alicia Glynn, our instructor, made sure we knew our stuff before scheduling our exam.  It was a lot to take in but it made me confident in my skills.  The most helpful part of the training was performing the skills in person, since I learn better through demonstration and practice.

Duties of a CNA include transferring residents, charting what goes on throughout the day, getting them ready in the morning and at night, making sure they look presentable and nice for meals and activities, helping them get from place to place, tidying up their room, finding things they need, and anything that makes them as comfortable and happy as they can be.

I enjoy the resident interaction the most, they are all very understanding with you and caring.  Having conversations with residents really makes my day, and I love when the residents share their wisdom with us.

A favorite memory is once after supper, another CNA and I were helping residents back to their rooms.  We were pushing a set of roommates side by side.  The roommates both looked at each other laughing and said, “Do you want to race back to the room?”  It’s such a neat experience to share in the day-to-day fun with our residents.  

To be a good CNA, you have to have great communication skills, be able to keep your composure, be gentle, kind, caring and understanding, and have quick and smart decision-making skills.

I would recommend students become CNAs in high school.  It really matures you as a person and teaches you some valuable things in life that everyone should know.  You also learn how to really talk to people and respect people.

The value for me is I get to be familiar with an area of the medical profession, I get a head start on patient care hours for college, and I get to figure out if I really want to pursue this as a future career.  It has taught me communication, perseverance, maturity, decision-making, and other general life skills that I should know.

Benedictine Ellendale is a great place to work, it is better than all of the nursing homes I’ve been in.  The people working there really do care about the residents and give them the respect they deserve.  The nurses and other staff are all very kind and friendly, especially to people that just started working like myself.  They are very flexible with scheduling, and you can just tell them when you want to work.  They work around your schedule as a high schooler.

I am very glad I chose to get educated and take the exam to become a CNA.  I already started building up patient care hours and experience in the medical field.  It has already helped me with my future goals, which is to attend UND and go for either pre-Med or pre-Physician Assistant, with a major in Health Sciences.

Mya Glynn, age 16, daughter of Jeff and Alicia Glynn

I started working at Benedictine Ellendale as a dietary aide in the kitchen and did this for 9 months.  I also did activities and wellness at Evergreen Place for a few months.  Then, I started working as a CNA in June 2023 at age 15.

I wanted to become a CNA because my older sister worked there before me, and she really enjoyed the job.  I thought it would be good experience for my future plans.  The class I took was very helpful.  I learned a lot and felt very prepared for the test.  The instructor, Alicia, was very knowledgeable and made sure that we had a good base knowledge of medical terminology and other helpful areas.  The most helpful part of the class were the hands-on activities to prepare us for the skills part of the test and also for the job.  We left the class feeling very prepared and passed the test on the first try.  We also appreciated that Benedictine Ellendale was willing to reimburse us for class time and also paid for our CNA test.

My favorite part about the CNA job is when I get to sit down and talk with the residents.  They all have lots of stories and wisdom to share.  A favorite memory is when a whole group of us that worked at Benedictine Ellendale got together and went on Prom night this year to show the residents our fancy clothes.  They joked that they didn’t recognize us without our scrubs on, and they still talk about it when we come in to work.

I would recommend other students become CNAs, as they were so kind in getting us our CNA license, and they are very flexible in my hours.  It is such great experience since I am getting my patient care hours, and this job prepares me for my future goals of working in health care.  I am also currently taking a Health Careers class in high school, and because I am currently working in a health-related field, I am able to get a full credit just because I am working.

Being a CNA teaches you kindness, compassion, communication and patience.  It is a flexible and great paying job.  This job has definitely taught me empathy with the older generation, improved my people skills, and given me experience in working with different families and co-workers.

I think Benedictine Ellendale is a very good place to work.  I like the fun atmosphere, meeting so many new people, and getting great contacts and references as I get older.  I don’t have to drive, and it is the best paying job in town for a kid my age.  They are super flexible in my hours.  I am in sports and a lot of extracurricular activities – including volleyball, basketball, Student Council, SADD, and youth group – and they work around it.  In the summer, there are lots of opportunities to pick up extra shifts.

Kali Norton, age 18, daughter of Jason and Lana Norton

I started working as a CNA this last summer.  I wanted to become a CNA because a few of my friends were thinking about taking a CNA class, and I wanted a job for the summer and weekends.  It also made sense for me because I want to go into the medical field.

The CNA class did a good job of preparing me for the certification exam.  The practice tests were a good way to prepare because the questions were very similar to the actual exam.  The most valuable part of the CNA training was practicing all of the skills, especially when we went to the test site beforehand.

As a CNA, we help residents with their activities of daily living, such as with transfers, eating and personal hygiene.  I like how I’m able to connect with the residents and get to know them on a personal level.  One of my favorite memories is when I helped a resident decorate their room for fall.  I got window stickers and drew a face on a pumpkin for them.

The main things you need to be a good CNA are patience, compassion and a good work ethic.  It has taught me to have more compassion and empathy for people.

I would recommend becoming a CNA in high school because you can pick which days to work, and it is a very rewarding job.  I really like how flexible the scheduling is for high schoolers. I was able to have my own time, such as participating in golf, basketball, track, National Honor Society and 4-H.  You can also gain experience in a health care field if that is something you want to go into.  Becoming a CNA will help me with my future goal to attend college for Nursing, because I already have patient care hours and experience working in a health care profession.

Sara Young, age 19, daughter Pat and Shannon Young

I started working in high school as a universal worker at Evergreen Place.  Working at Evergreen for two years showed me how much I enjoyed helping the residents.  I then decided to become a CNA and began in that position in November 2022.

Communication, an ability to follow instructions, and being sympathetic are important in being a good CNA.  What I like best about being a CNA is interacting with the residents.  A fond memory is coming to visit the residents after being away at college.

I would recommend becoming a CNA in high school because it gives you job experience and also a good overview on how it is to work in healthcare.  You also learn how to communicate well with residents and nurses.  This is helpful since I am going to school for Radiology.

Learn and Grow While Making a Positive Impact

Teens ages 15 and up who are interested in learning more about becoming a CNA can call Benedictine Ellendale Executive Director Naomi Grueneich at (701) 349-6705.  Wages start at $18.50 an hour, with higher wages for afternoon, night, weekend and holiday shifts.  Benedictine Ellendale will pay for the CNA certification class, training and test.

Job shadowing is also available in all areas including nursing, culinary, wellness, therapy, maintenance and housekeeping.

For more information about meaningful employment opportunities with Benedictine Ellendale and Evergreen Place, call (701) 349-6705 or visit benedictineellendale.org/careers.