Creating Pathways to Promising Careers


TriState Health, in collaboration with Walla Walla Community College and Clarkston High School (CHS), launched a groundbreaking Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program tailored for high school students. This initiative is not just a leap forward in healthcare education, but a testament to the power of community collaboration in creating pathways for the next generation of healthcare professionals. The program, meticulously designed to fit within the regular school hours of CHS students, offers a unique blend of academic learning and practical clinical experience.

“This idea originated because of the need to develop our local pipelines to obtain staff within our organization,” says Jordan Stover, Senior Recruiter at TriState Health. “It has taken over two years to get all the right pieces and people in place. The first piece was working collaboratively with Walla Walla Community College to establish the curriculum in a manner that could be executed in a shorter timeframe to fit the high school period day. Bringing the CNA class to the students at the high school location removed the barrier of them having to do it outside of their regular school day. Students would be able to participate in the program and still be able to participate in extracurricular activities. The second piece was recruiting the instructor; the right person would have to be able to carve out the time in their day for the irregular schedule to teach the program,” Stover continues. “The hospital would provide the clinical site for students to complete their clinical hours, giving the students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the real-world environment of healthcare and offering invaluable firsthand experience that is both rare and highly sought after at the high school level.”

With all the pieces coming together, TriState went a step further and committed to fund the student’s tuition so the program could begin. Pledging to cover the tuition costs for students upon completion of the course could alleviate the financial barriers that often deter students from pursuing healthcare careers. “It’s a clear signal of TriState’s investment in the future of its students and the health of the community it serves,” says Stover. The hospital’s vision extends beyond the classroom and the clinical setting. “By investing in the education and training of these young and aspiring CNAs, TriState Health is nurturing a pipeline of skilled and committed healthcare professionals, hoping that the students coming out of this program will apply for our open positions and choose to begin their careers within the hospital that played a pivotal role in their early development. We want to be the employer of choice and give them a good start through this opportunity we have established,” she adds. It is a forward-thinking approach to healthcare staffing, addressing future needs by cultivating today’s talent. 

The first four CHS students are close to completing the inaugural run of this initiative. “Being part of this CNA program feels like I am stepping into my future career every day, right in between my other classes,” says participant Ryann Combs. “Not only does it fit perfectly into my daily schedule, it also has almost no cost to me, and it gives me a head start on the practical skills and knowledge I’ll need for a successful career in healthcare. I am excited to be learning new things that will help me get started on my future.”

This partnership represents more than just an educational program, it is a commitment to our community. By investing in local students, TriState Health and its partners are building lasting relationships that strengthen the fabric of the community. “I am proud to be part of an organization that recognizes a community need and seeks out how they can contribute to the solution,” concludes Stover. “TriState’s mission is to serve our community and keep healthcare local, and this is just one more way that we are contributing to the future of healthcare in the Lewis-Clark Valley.”