Dorothea Marville, CNA and PCT
Dorothea Marville is a 33-year-old CNA (certified nursing assistant) working at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Lehman College helped her prepare to make a transition from retail to her dream career in healthcare after she completed her GED. Dorothea completed her CNA certification through Lehman College in 2021. She is also the recipient of the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship, which she is currently using to complete her PCT (patient care technician) certification. The following are excerpts from an interview with her about her continuing education experience at Lehman College.
How did you discover the CNA program at Lehman College?
I was looking for a career change from retail. I’ve always been interested in nursing, but the idea of going back to school was intimidating. Honestly, I was really lost. I spoke with a friend who was in healthcare who said why don’t you become a technician? I did some research and saw that you needed to get a certification. Lehman came up and I knew that it was a good school so I signed up for an info session over Zoom with Maryann and Doctor Paul. It was super affordable, so I decided to go for it.
How were your CNA classes?
I was extremely nervous at first because I had just gotten my GED, but that ended once I got into the class. Professor Claudia, Doctor Paul, and Maryann were all so informative. Any question I had, even if it seemed stupid to me, they would answer. They made me feel so comfortable. Professor Claudio would ask great questions to get us to think about what she was teaching and connect everything together. They gave me the tools, I just had to do the work. On a scale of 1-10 with how hard it was I would say it was an 8 only because I didn't have a medical background. But as long as I did my reading, I was always prepared for what was being taught.
What was your favorite part?
We did 4 days of clinicals in a nursing home facility. You learn so much more from actually working with a patient than you do from just sitting in class. The fact that we got to participate in hands-on training with real patients helped so much, and so did being with different professors who had their own techniques and tips. During my state boards I was given three skills that I was tested on, and I felt extremely confident and prepared. I knew it because of the program. I scored a 97/100 and I honestly know I couldn't have done it without Lehman College. They set the foundation but you have to do the work. You’re encouraged to ask questions, which is so nice because so often people assume things make sense to you, but at Lehman they don’t take anything for granted.
Tell us about the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship
I really wanted to take the PCT course, but I couldn’t afford it. I wrote a letter for the scholarship and submitted an application. But I had basically decided that even if I didn’t get it, I would just take it course by course when I could afford to do it.
When I found out I got the scholarship my children thought I was crazy. I was jumping up and down and shouting, I was so happy. I had put myself on the backburner for so long, taking care of my family and then having children, getting married. I did for me. I finally put myself first and I feel so accomplished and proud of myself. The best part is that my kids watched me do this...I always tell them if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything, and I got to prove that to them.
Why did you decide to go back for the PCT at Lehman College?
PCT allows you to do Phlebotomy and EKG which lets me work in more environments like cardiology departments and labs. I really wanted to be of service anywhere that I went, and this was the fastest way to do that without 4 years of school. I’m the person who is the point of contact for so much because the nurses and doctors are so busy. Knowing these things and taking care of the patient really helps ensure better care for the patient. We’re the ones who are working with them day to day, hour to hour. We’re very important.
What does your workday look like?
When I arrive, I receive my assignment from the charge nurse. I relieve whoever has my assignment and they give me a report. They let me know who needs vitals, who is post-op, who needs care. Typically, on a slow day I have 8 patients, and when the floor is full, I have 12.
I document vitals, offer water, juice, and food. I work the night shift so most of the time they are sleeping, but I do my hourly rounds to make sure everyone is okay. I find myself checking more often on the people who need the most care.
I take an hour lunch and then I come back and give the patients a bath if they need help, brush their teeth, change their linens. Make sure they have everything they need to feel comfortable.
Once all that is done, I document everything that needs to be documented. I report to the charge nurse anything that’s abnormal, vital signs, sores, anything the nurse needs to be aware of. My relief comes in and then I get to go home.
How has Lehman’s Training changed your life?
It’s been amazing. In retail I was making $15.50/hr. Now I make $23/hr with benefits, and since I’m part of a union there are so many things that I have now like access to childcare. You bring home great pay and you have healthcare, which is something that’s nonexistent in retail. Ultimately, I want to be a respiratory therapist, and the amazing thing is that my union will pay for me to go to school! The hospitals too, they want you to go to school to get more skills. They’ll alter your hours without changing your pay so that you can go to class. There are so many resources available that I have access to now.
What is your advice for someone who might be thinking about making a career change with classes at Lehman College?
I would tell them that it’s never too late, even if it feels like it. This course was so fast and it changed my life. It’s never too late, so go for it!