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Degree Propels Grad from CNA to Administrator

UL Online -- Thu, 02/06/2020 - 1:20pm

For Yiesha January, earning her degree was non-negotiable. With three young children and a full-time job, she was also firm that her degree program would need to be flexible and allow her to pursue a career in health care.

Health Services Administration, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette online degree program, seemed to fit the bill.

It only took one class for January to find she was exactly where she wanted to be.Yiesha January, Health Services Administration graduate

“I couldn’t go on campus with my work schedule and raising a family,” she says. “When I got into HSA and took the first class, I loved it.”

January worked full-time as a certified nursing assistant in a New Iberia nursing home. She says she wanted to do more, and HSA gave her that opportunity.

“Working in a nursing home and being around administration and different areas of health care drove me to that program,” she says. “Every course proved to me why I needed to be there.”

Because she was already in a healthcare setting, January was able to immediately make connections from the theories and lessons in her online courses to real-world applications. One of those courses emphasized emergency management.

“I was able to apply that to putting an emergency preparedness plan in place for the nursing home,” she says. “It prepared me for the reality of it.”

Students complete online courses in healthcare management, health information systems, finance, leadership, health care policy, and strategic management, among others.

January says those courses prepared her to be more than an administrator. They prepared her to lead. 

“That was a big one because at the time I didn’t know what being a leader really required,” she says. “You can be a boss, but a being leader makes a difference.”

As a full-time student, nursing assistant, and parent, January also had to develop a skillset specifically for managing her online coursework.

It was a steep learning curve.

“I missed my first exam,” she says. “After that, I made sure I was on time and very detailed. You have to plan, prioritize, have a calendar and stick to it. It goes by very fast; you have to be very organized in online courses.”

January says she made a habit of reviewing or completing something each day in each of her courses.

“I’d do notecards one day, textbook reading the next day — you have to stay involved with each course, each day,” she says. “At one point I was taking six courses at a time. You can get off track and lose out on something, so it’s very important to stay on top of it and find time wherever you can.

“You have to be really dedicated.”

But January is also dedicated to her family, which meant finding ways to study without taking quality time from her three young children.

“I had to kind of teach them when you want something you have to go for it, but you have to make time for family,” she says. “They’re the most important thing to me.

“I wanted to show them you can be anything you want to be. It’s going to take sacrifices, dedication, and patience. It won’t come easy and overnight; you have to work hard for it.”

January says she fit schoolwork into her lunch breaks, while cooking, after her children were asleep, or early in the morning.

“It wasn’t easy, but I managed it,” she says. “I was taking my books to restaurants, reviewing while we waited for food. I told them it would pay off.

“You have to really want it. It’s so worth it.”

That hectic schedule didn’t keep January from getting involved with the program’s community outreach efforts. She served as treasurer and then president of the Health Services Administration student organization.

“We made a difference — we visited Goodwill, we visited the children’s hospital,” she says. “HSA provides opportunities outside of just being an online student. That’s what I liked about the program. You were able to be involved even as an online student.”

Pursuing her bachelor’s degree online, January had a clear goal: become a nursing home administrator.

After earning her degree in May 2018, January began applying for hospital and nursing home administration positions and was quickly offered a position at a Baton Rouge nursing home as an assistant administrator.

“As a CNA, I watched how the administrators handled things. I learned what to do and what not to do,” she says. “I wanted to become an advocate for residents as well as employees and be of service to people in the nursing home. That’s what pushed me to that career choice, and HSA really helped me get there.” 

Now, January is preparing for an exam to become a licensed nursing home administrator in Louisiana. In the meantime, she’s working toward her next academic milestone through UL Lafayette’s MBA in Health Care Administration online.

“I’m enjoying everything I’m learning; I’m a learner,” she says. “I like to learn how to make processes better and work smarter.”

January is on track to graduate from UL Lafayette once again in May 2020. 

Become a healthcare leader through UL Lafayette’s online Health Services Administration program. Courses are 100% online to allow you to maintain a work-school-life balance while cultivating important connections and achieving your academic goals.
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