Beginning a career in the medical field as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) turned out to be a positive move for three directors at Regional West Garden County in Oshkosh.

Regional West Garden County Nursing Home Director of Nursing Nicole Loomis, RN, BSN; Regional West Garden County Hospital Director of Nursing Misty Ross, RN, CEN; and Regional West Garden County Clinic Director of Patient Care Services April Toepfer, RN, BSN, all began their careers as a CNA.

“I understood how very much my CNA license helped me prepare for the work-related experiences that I have had – it has only made me stronger and definitely more compassionate,” Ross said.

In tandem with Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC), Regional West Garden County is offering CNA training classes beginning May 25 at the Regional West Garden County Nursing Home. Financial assistance is available through GAP funding at WNCC or through Regional West Garden County Foundation scholarships.

Regional West Garden County Executive Operations Coordinator Wendy Krueger said if an individual intends to become a full-time CNA, all course expenses could potentially be paid through GAP funding.

The course will teach students the basics of how to care for patients, whether they’re nursing home residents, hospital patients, or clinical patients. Students will learn how to dress, feed, and transfer patients. They will also learn skills such as taking vital signs, giving bed baths, and changing bedding with the patient or resident still in the bed.

“Becoming a CNA is the perfect place to start a career in the medical field,” Toepfer said. “From my experience, being a CNA before I became a nurse made me a better nurse. It taught me the basics of what I need to do. It taught me what to look for once I became a charge nurse. It also taught me CNAs are an important part of the team.”

Loomis said her career choice has “always been about patient care,” and helping care for people in the community where she grew up.

“What our hospital and nursing home has to offer our community is near and dear to my heart,” she said. “Whether it’s a resident or a patient in our hospital, nine times out of 10 they’re someone who I already know and care for. Keeping the services available to our community is very important. My interest in seeing the facility succeed goes back a long way.”

Registration deadline for the Regional West Garden County CNA course is May 18. For more information or to register, contact Krueger at 308-772-3283 or email; or contact Jill Lehmkuhl at WNCC at 308-635-6060 or email

“The nursing field is noble, from CNA to RN,” Ross said. “I cannot think of a profession that is more diverse and rewarding.”