By Carey Guhlke-Falk, Communications Director at Lincoln Hospital and Clinics, photo by Val Mohney
If you asked her younger self what she would be doing in retirement, Ronda Caddell, RN, BSN, would not have guessed teaching. The veteran palliative care nurse spent 24 years in Western Washington with her husband, Lynn, who was a school superintendent, before coming to Eastern Washington to retire.
“We heard an ad for Hawk Creek Ranch,” Caddell said. “We googled it, fell in love with the property and the area, and built a home here 5 years ago.”
Soon after settling down in their new home, and just when she was getting in the swing of things in retirement, Lincoln Hospital came knocking with a job offer for the NA-C Instructor position. The newly-formed job would include teaching high school students how to be nursing assistants and preparing them for certification.
“At first I said no,” Caddell said. “But they kept calling and eventually convinced me. I thought this was maybe a window that was trying to be open.”
Caddell’s life motto “you don’t know what you don’t know” has proven to be true in this case and she has since been grateful for the unexpected turn in her life and career.
“The job has been more than I could have hoped for, I’ve learned a lot too and it’s really been a blessing in disguise. My husband’s 32 years of experience in education has been really helpful too – he’s a good sounding board.”
The NA-C class was formed through a partnership with Lincoln Hospital, the Davenport School District and Spokane Public Schools’ NEWTECH Skill Center with the intent to provide college or career bound students local educational opportunities along with “21st century skills.” Caddell is an employee of Lincoln Hospital, but spends most of her days teaching at Davenport High School with the exception of clinical hours that are performed at Lincoln Hospital. The curriculum is part of the students’ regular class time and they meet each Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. A construction skill course is also being offered by the school district.
Currently, the courses require students to be enrolled in Spokane Public Schools during the skill class time, but recent legislation will allow Davenport’s school district to form their own skill center and therefore, receive better funding for the program.
“This class is normally a community college level class and these students are able to graduate high school with this skill and certification, ready to work, and not have the cost associated with it,” Caddell said about the NA-C class. “It’s an excellent launching pad for kids interested in going into the medical field.”
According to Caddell, a class like this would cost up to $3,000 at a community college. For Davenport High School students, there is no cost. Between the school district and Lincoln Hospital, all costs are covered.
“It has been a great partnership,” said Jennifer Larmer, Lincoln Hospital’s Chief Clinical Officer. “We love working with the school district and helping to provide this resource to local students. Ronda has really made this program successful. She’s been an amazing teacher, so dedicated to the program and students.”
The program just finished its second year with six students who received their certification on May 31. Caddell said she is looking forward to the plans for growth in the program for next year.