Julie Kimbell was a teenager when she felt the pull to help others. At just 17 she started a career that changed her life.
“It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do, but it’s the most rewarding,” says Kimbell, who has worked as a certified nursing assistant for nearly 40 years.
At Columbia Basin Care for most of her career, she cares for residents in the area’s only community-owned, not-for-profit nursing home. Working under the direction of nurses, certified nursing assistants (commonly called CNA) provide hands-on nursing care, assisting residents with bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, oral care and more.
“I treat them as I would want my parents to be treated, or my loved ones,” she says, offering a smile and hand to greet resident John Munoz.
“You’re such a caring person,” he says, his eyes beaming under her warmth and attention. “She’s a wonderful woman. She’ll do anything she can for you.”
Providing care and attention
Kimbell is both a certified nursing assistant and a certified medication aide (Columbia Basin Care provided her CMA training), and though she’s considered moving into a leadership position, she prefers the individual care and attention her current role allows.
“If I was a nurse, I’d be stuck behind a computer and paperwork,” she says. “As a CNA, I get more resident interaction. I can make their lives better while I’m here, while they’re here.”
Still, she notes that becoming a CNA is a great first step to a career in health care. “It’s a great way to see if nursing is for you, if you’ll like the work.”
At Columbia Basin, nursing assistants work with highly qualified staff and have opportunities for on-the-job learning and mentorships. The facility has the area’s only on-site geriatric nurse practitioner, Valerie Hiveley-Blatz. She specializes in elderly care and serves as the primary care physician for many residents.
In addition, a team of on-site, licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists provide comprehensive rehabilitation and restorative services.
With just a six-week investment of time and effort, says Kimbell, you can begin a new career. But what does it take to be successful?
“You have to love people,” she says, wrapping her arms around resident Vernon Chase as she readies him for lunch. “You’re important to their lives. You make a difference.”
Start a new career now
Columbia Basin Care is now offering free training to become a certified nursing assistant. The six-week course begins October 1, 2015, and is free to qualified applicants. No previous health care experience is required. For more information, or to apply, contact Cassie Hill, Director of Nursing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit in person, Columbia Basin Care, 1015 Webber St, in The Dalles.
To learn of other opportunities at Columbia Basin Care, see our Careers page.