Lifeline Academy: Developing skilled and compassionate healthcare workers

As a mother of four, full-time nurse, and business owner SeAndra Robinson is busy, but if you ask her, she’ll say she loves every moment of it.

Robinson has been a nurse for over 16 years, starting as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), and moving to a licensed practical nurse (LPN), before earning an associate's degree in nursing and becoming a registered nurse. She currently serves as director of nursing for a long-term care center. 

SeAndra Robinson is an RN and CEO of Lifeline Academy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson says she saw a need for more compassionate caregivers in the healthcare field, so she set out to use her experience and skills to do just that.

In October of 2022, the lifelong Fort Wayne resident opened her own business, Lifeline Academy. Located inside The Dream Center at 1615 East Wallace Street, Lifeline educates students for certifications and licensure to become nursing assistants and medical aides. Both are career paths the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow either at average or above average over the next decade. 
Robinson says her goal is to help develop compassionate, skilled healthcare professionals for Fort Wayne.

“Sometimes the caregivers, which are the CNAs, QMAs, and nurses, are all some of the residents have,” she explains. “My vision with Lifeline is for us to train them to go out and be a lifeline to everyone they come in contact with.”

Input Fort Wayne sat down with Robinson to learn more about her career in healthcare and her business, Lifeline Academy.

IFW: Can you tell us about your career in the healthcare field?
SR: I’m currently a director of nursing in long-term care, as well as a nurse consultant in long-term care, and I also worked as a bedside nurse. I work full-time as a registered nurse, while also running Lifeline. 

IFW: Tell us about your business.
SR: Lifeline Academy offers courses for certified nursing assistants (CNA) and qualified medical aide (QMA), as well as insulin certification, all of which is Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) approved. We also offer CPR and TB certification, and we assist with job placement after the successful completion of our courses. We offer online courses as well as in-person courses. All of our classes come with hands-on, in-person skills validation.

From left: RN Instructor Queen Williams helps students Ja'Lona Franklin and Mollie Niles with a blood pressure check while at Lifeline Academy.
IFW: What inspires you to do this type of work?

SR: My children, my loving family, and all the individuals whose lives we are going to be able to impact in a special way.

IFW: What made Fort Wayne a good location for your business?
SR: There is a high demand for skilled caregivers in the healthcare field here.

Student Mollie Niles practices an assist to feed while at Lifeline Academy.IFW: How did you come up with your business name?
SR: I came up with “Lifeline Academy” because I envisioned us being able to teach people that will be able to go out into the community and breathe life back into others by humbly caring, being compassionate, showing empathy, and being a light for the individual they are caring for.  

We noticed some residents in long-term care have no family or any loved ones who come visit or are there to show support. Sometimes the caregivers, which are the CNAs, QMAs, and nurses, are all some of the residents have. My vision with Lifeline is for us to train them to go out and be a lifeline to everyone they come in contact with.

IFW: What were some of the challenges you faced as a new business?
SR: We struggled with being able to find sponsors or funding to assist individuals who really wanted to enhance their healthcare journey but were unable to afford the courses. It is still a struggle but sometimes we can find silent sponsors.

Practice pills at Lifeline Academy.IFW: What made you realize you wanted to become a business owner?
SR: I have always had a vision of opening a business, but I struggled with what I wanted to open. I knew I loved teaching, but I wanted to continue in my nursing field. The COVID-19 pandemic made me realize that my passion was to open an academy where we can train compassionate caregivers to assist and meet the needs of individuals.

IFW: As a business owner, what does success look like for you?
SR: For me it is seeing individuals grow knowledge and skills successfully, to be able to go out and care for others. 

Student Ja'Lona Franklin, helps mother SeAndra Robinson RN CEO with a wheelchair assist while at Lifeline Academy.IFW: Do you have any plans to grow your business?
SR: We plan on adding more courses to our school as well as branching off into some more amazing projects.

IFW: What advice do you have for other people starting a business?
SR: Stay consistent no matter how hard things may look. Take things day by day even if you have unsuccessful outcomes, continue to push and strive to be the best business owner you can be. Always breathe life into your business, always speak positively, and be prayerful.

This series is made possible by SEED Fort Wayne.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.