School 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week, and 16 hour shifts during the weekend.

Most people would dread these hours, and while stressful, this is 23-year-old Ashley Binion’s schedule. Believe it or not, she says this is an exciting time for her.

Binion is a certified nursing assistant, at the senior citizen community, Zionsville Meadows and works in the Alzheimer’s unit. Zionsville Meadows is a part of American Senior Communities, which has senior citizen communities all across the state of Indiana.

She has been a CNA working at Zionsville Meadows for two and a half years.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working with the dementia patients,” Binion said. “I love working with them. It’s more mentally stressful, but I love it and working in the Alzheimer’s unit.”

Binion’s goals begin with becoming a nurse then eventually becoming a nurse practitioner. To help her achieve her goals, she was chosen for the One Program.

“At American Senior Communities, we have the One Program — and it’s for CNAs and licensed practitioner nurse who want to further themselves in the healthcare nursing field,” said Tiffany Kraese, Zionsville Meadows’ director of marketing.

One person per each facility is chosen. Binion was chosen for Zionsville Meadows mid-August because of her positive attitude and hard work. She is enrolled at Brown Mackey College and will complete her schooling in October 2011.

“I love working in the medical field and just want to become a nurse to help residents and meet their health needs.”

On top of her busy school schedule during the week, a typical workday for her, over the weekend, is a long one.

“I work every weekend — I work 16 hour shifts, Saturday and Sunday. I come in, get my people signed up, make sure their teeth are brushed, they are showered and cleaned, we get breakfast,” she said. “It’s a busy day, it’s a long day. I try to spend time with my residents because many don’t have family and I treat them like mine.”

This will be Binion’s first year away from her family for Christmas. She is a mother of two young boys, a four and a 3-year-old. She truly loves what she does and the patients she works with. It makes working over the Christmas holiday a bit easier.

“Usually I am home with my kids, so this year I guess they’ll be celebrating with their father or my sister or possibly the Friday before,” she said, unsure of her plans for the holiday.

Typically for Christmas, she spends time with her large family and each year they choose a different house to cook. This year was Binion’s year.

“Everyone brings their kid’s gifts and we celebrate with my grandmother. She has dementia. She’s the one that cooked, by not anymore. It’s a tribute to her to make the family come together. We have a very big family, my grandmother has eight kids.”

It will be stressful being away from her family, but will all be worth it in the end. Her busy schedule has made her miss out on many important events this year, but she will be finished with this schedule in March. After March, she will only go to school two days a week along with clinicals.

Upon finishing her schooling, she plans to stay at Zionsville Meadows and go back to school to become a nurse practitioner.

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