“Nobody is here because they dreamed of doing this”: On Training to Be a Nurse Aide

Eli Saslow at the Washington Post has a great long piece following a young woman named Tereza who, desperate for employment, enrolls in a crash course to become a certified nursing aide: this is the fastest-growing job in America and one of the most tiring and thankless; the majority of new hires burn out within a year, making “the place of opportunity [] in fact the place of last resort.” As the class unfolds it becomes clear that no one is particularly confident about the training or the demands of the profession or the system that necessitates it. About Tereza’s teacher:

[S]he had spent the last days wondering whom this training system served. The students, who would make $8 an hour in jobs they weren’t prepared for? Their future employers, who would be hiring novice workers? The 72 million aging Americans, who would spend their last years living through these caretakers’ mistakes?

“What can I do?” Morris said, and she had already made up her mind. She had another class to teach in a few days, and then another after that. America’s elderly needed caretakers. America’s unemployed needed jobs.


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