The need for trained workers in the healthcare field continues to climb. Missouri State University-West Plains is working to fill that need through a certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT).
The program started as a way to help individuals get a job in healthcare quickly. Currently, most students are sponsored through a local healthcare organization, such as Ozarks Medical Center (OMC), Ozark Action/Missouri Job Center, or Brooke Haven Healthcare, though a sponsor is not required.
“The idea to team with the hospital and local long-term care facilities was really kind of an accident,” said Amy Ackerson, director of nursing programs at Missouri State University-West Plains.
“They were looking to offer a class, but did not yet have the state approval. We had the state approval, but not the students needed for a class. So, we collaborated and formed the agreement with South Central Career Center to have a community partnership for CNA training,” she explained
The program is an eight-week, non-credit course designed to provide training and clinical experience in the healthcare field. It includes lectures, labs and clinical instruction.
“I think it’s an excellent way for them to actually learn how to be a CNA. Our goal is more qualified CNAs,” said April Bandy, RN, director of nursing at Brooke Haven Healthcare. “It’s better than just on-the-job training because they’re not expected to know everything up front.”
J.J. Corman, director of nursing at OMC, said the students are actually employees at that facility.
“We sponsor candidates, so they start out hired as an OMC employee. In the program, they do some clinical hours here, get to know our systems and departments, our different protocols. After they finish the program, we then try to pair the students with an appropriate unit that compliments both us and them. We like that we can be a part of their education as well as their training,” she explained.
A Student’s Perspective
Kaylee Spradlin, who completed the CNA training program and is employed at OMC, is currently continuing her education in the two-year Associate of Science in Nursing program at Missouri State-West Plains.
“When I enrolled, I was not confident in my ability to get through the program. I have been successful thus far with the encouragement and help of our instructors. They are so amazing and have boosted my confidence in myself as a person and my abilities as a future nurse,” Spradlin said.
“(The CNA program) has taught me dedication and motivation like nothing else. The instructors have been so kind and motivating, and they have made this experience enjoyable, fun, and interesting,” she added.
“What’s great about this program is that it’s short-term training that provides a real career path in the healthcare industry,” Sheila Barton, project manager at GOCAT, said. “Many stay as a CNA, but others can decide to go on and further their education in other nursing occupations.”
Over six cohorts of the CNA training program have been offered, and those cohorts have produced 39 graduates with a 100 percent job placement rating.
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information center, experienced CNAs in the Springfield, Missouri, metropolitan area received an annual wage of nearly $35,000 in 2018.
For more information about the program or to register, contact Sheila Barton, project manager at GOCAT, at 417-255-7784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.