Manor Moments

Employee Spotlight: Amy Pena

June 2024
Behind every successful CNA student is an amazing nurse

Amy Pena, RN, Assistant Director of Nursing/Staff Development, plays an essential role in Cornwall Manor’s Nursing Administration. She does CPR training for health center and personal care staff, assists with resident applications for medical assistance, participates in employee evaluations, creates staff education, conducts new employee orientation, acts a committee member for Infection Control and Prevention, interviews CNA applicants for employment and oversees the Cornwall Manor’s Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program as the Program Coordinator and RN Instructor.

Certified nursing assistants are an integral part of the health care team at any facility, especially here at Cornwall Manor. A career as a CNA is a rewarding profession that allows you to build relationships and strong bonds with the residents whom you care for. The job can be demanding, as it requires nurses to be a constant in the lives of the residents they serve, but it’s also gratifying.  Elderly residents can have challenges with daily tasks of living, like bathing and feeding. CNAs feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as they assist residents. The program is designed to help students prepare to become a CNA, while providing valuable, hands-on experience in this field.

“Nurses who have worked as CNAs are better leaders because they’ve done direct care and understand the physical and emotional part,” shares Amy…and she speaks from experience because that’s where her nursing career began.

Her mother encouraged her to apply at Cornwall Manor for the nurse aide program in February 1993. Upon successful completion of the program, she accepted a position at Cornwall Manor and has worked in many levels of care delivery.

While working as a CNA, Amy furthered her education by attending Lebanon County Career and Technology Center and received her Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) degree in 1995. While continuing to work as an LPN, she continued her education at Harrisburg Area Community College and received her Registered Nurse (RN) degree in 2003.

She gained acute care experience at the Hershey Medical Center. Acute care is a branch of secondary health care where a patient receives active but short-term treatment for a severe injury or episode of illness, an urgent medical condition, or during recovery from surgery.

She returned to Cornwall Manor in a full-time capacity in January 2008 as an RN Supervisor and in 2014 was promoted to the Assistant Director of Nursing position. In her new role, she took over the CNA program and revamped and improved the training.

The CNA class is comprised of 125 hours over 18 days on a full-time basis. Students spend 47.75 hours in clinical, 28 hours in the lab practicing hands on skills like bathing and dressing and 49.25 hours in the classroom. Amy teaches students the role and function of the nurse aide, resident rights, infection prevention, safety and emergency procedures, resident environment and independence, body system, basic and restorative care and cognitive impairments like dementia. CNA class sizes range from three to ten students and she usually teaches three-four classes a year. This year marks Amy’s tenth year of teaching and a total of 36 CNA classes taught!

Amy recently had the opportunity to travel to Chicago, IL and participate as a volunteer in August 2023 and again in March 2024 with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to review and develop exam questions for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) Exam.

The NNAAP consists of two components: a written portion and a skills demonstration portion. Students must successfully complete both components of the exam before a state can add their name to the state nurse aide registry. The state registry is used to assure employers that the potential hire has met the federal and state requirements for employment. The written test is developed nationally, while the skills portion of the exam is developed by each state.

“It takes a very special person to work in geriatrics and its exciting for students brand new to the field to take advantage of the opportunity. I love being part of that.”

Cornwall Manor appreciates Amy’s service of 26 years and is very grateful to have her as part of the team. As Amy shares her dedication and compassion for nursing with so many, it is that impact that develops a devoted nurse who provides high-quality care to residents, for which Cornwall Manor is known for.