When Suneeti Dash begins practicing osteopathic medicine in a few years, she is confident that what she learned in Macomb’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program will help her compassionately address the needs of her patients and work as a team with other health care professionals.
“As a pre-med student, it’s always important to get clinical experience. Some med schools recommend or even require patient care hours,” says Dash, who has just started her studies at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Missouri. “I considered Macomb’s EMT program, but it was 16 weeks long. The CNA program was the best and easiest way to get those hours.”
Dash and her twin sister, Suruchi, attended Central Michigan University (CMU) in Mount Pleasant after graduating from Dakota High School in 2015. Both received Bachelor of Science degrees in May. They attended Macomb’s CNA Program while home on a summer break, completing the less than six-week program before returning for their junior semester at CMU. After becoming certified nursing assistants, they were hired for ongoing, part-time work at Angelica’s Place, the assisted care facility in Romeo where they completed their clinical practicums.
“They were very flexible with our schedules. We worked there every break or weekends home for two years,” says Dash. “I learned a lot about helping patients feel comfortable. It’s one thing to see someone do it, and another to do it yourself.”
Among the skills Dash acquired in the CNA Program were getting patients in and out of bed, dressing someone who has had a stroke (affected side first) and easing the anxiety of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, who can become agitated by sharp fluctuations in light and weather. The experience validated Dash’s decision to become a doctor.
“I always enjoyed going into the science labs, and my plans just solidified from there,” says Dash, whose twin is also pursuing an osteopathic medical degree, but at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “I don’t know where my residency will take me, but I wouldn’t mind coming back home to Michigan to practice.”
After serving as an emergency room scribe and typing up notes for doctors during her last year at CMU, she is leaning toward emergency care as a specialty. But Dash intends to explore all the options over the next four years at Kansas State. Regardless of what hospital her residency is at or what area of medicine she chooses to specialize in, she believes her training in Macomb’s CNA program has prepared her well.
“When I walk into a hospital, I will be able to have a good rapport with nurses,” offers Dash, whose future plans include volunteering with a global humanitarian organization like Doctors Without Borders to treat those with little or no access to medical care. “And if the team needs me to do something, I will be able to do it.”