ONTONAGON — A western Upper Peninsula nursing program has recently added couple of training stations thanks to a donation from an area medical facility.

The Aspirus Ontonagon recently donated three hospital beds to Gogebic Ontonagon ISD for it’s CNA vocational training program.

“It really takes a collaborative effort in having the supplies that we need to make sure that the students are learning on equipment that is up to date and functional,” said Amanda Sprague, a nurse and program instructor for the Gogebic Ontonagon ISD.

Today’s education system offers it’s students far more avenues for success than in past decades, and as each learning program needs room to grow, investments in education come in many forms.

“There’s really not a lot of money to go around in education so it’s really nice when the hospital steps in and is able to provide us with some of the equipment and make it available for the students to be learning,” said Sprague.

These students are in a CNA training program that lets them get a feel for nursing and if they stick with it, earn certifications while still in high school.

“Sometimes they come into my program thinking that they’re going to be a nurse, and leave thinking ‘I’m never going to be a nurse,'” Sprague said. “And sometimes they come into my program not quite sure and then they really find a passion.”

The program maintains a mutually beneficial relationship with the Aspirus Health System, and in addition to contributions like two more hospital beds, that the students will use to provide educational treatment to manikins, Jerry, Jerry and coed Beatrice, many of these students will take this training right to the hospital for employment.

“We’ve actually had quite a few of those students come here and work as CNAs or nurses or in other departments later on in life,” said Taylor Ross, Director of Nursing Long Term Care at Aspirus Ontonagon.

“Everything that we learn here we would normally take it to a long term facility,” said Destiny, an 11th grade student in Ontonagon Area Schools. “We have a long term, not that far from our school actually, and I April we get to go there for clinicals and practice everything that we’ve learned on the residents there.”

“They get real life experience, taking care of patients,” said Ross. “They get residents assigned to them, they’ll learn how to help them eat their meals, what their daily care is.. whatever they need for their daily life.”

For some students working with real patients is what the training has been all about.

“I started as a CNA before I was a nurse,” Ross said. “It’s a really great way to know if this is what you want to do for the rest of your life, and if you decide that it’s not right, than there’s really nothing lost.”

“I already have my mind set that I’m going to get a bachelor of RN,” said Destiny.

“It’s nice when they actually find what it is that they want to do for the rest of their lives,” said Sprague. “It’s actually an encouragement to me and I love to see how they grow and are doing great things long after me.”