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COVID response: HTC free training for nursing assistants

student training to become certified nursing assistant (cna)

Eden Prairie, Feb. 7, 2022 – Hennepin Technical College (HTC) participated in a statewide effort to alleviate critical staffing shortages in the healthcare system by offering free training for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in January 2022.

Governor Tim Walz announced a goal to train 1,000 new CNAs for employment in long-term care facilities and other medical care facilities. Currently, members of the Minnesota National Guard are serving in some facilities as an emergency measure. COVID-19 has increased the demand for care while reducing staffing levels due to illnesses among workers.

During the targeted effort in January, HTC provided training for 19 CNAs and is among several colleges in the Minnesota State college system that participated in the statewide program.

The state used $3.5 million in federal funds to pay for the training. As a result, students received free classes, books, uniforms and certification exams. 

Students begin new careers

Recent graduate Kendra Williams had been working in retail and was searching for a new career path.

“My friend told me about the free CNA training and I said, ‘Yes, yes I want to do this. I love to help people. It makes me happy,’” said Williams.

Soon after Williams started the training at HTC, she received a job offer at a long-term care facility. She juggled her time between her new job and CNA training. Williams plans to continue her education at HTC and train to become a licensed practical nurse.

“I’m glad I chose to do this. My advice to anyone thinking about it is to do it, it’s rewarding,” said Williams.

Online classes add convenience

To help recruit students, HTC ensured that the schedule was convenient for people who are already employed. Most of the training was in a virtual environment with students attending Zoom lectures and completing online assignments. Once a week, the students attended in-person classes on the HTC campus in Eden Prairie. During these classes, students practiced their skills in a classroom that looks like a hospital setting.

Faculty member Candy Leopold was impressed with the students who completed the month-long training.

“It takes a person with a big heart to become a CNA. Healthcare people are really motivated by their desire to care for others. Our students asked lots of questions and were eager to learn,” said Leopold.

Faculty member Patricia Reinhart is a registered nurse who taught the weekly  classes via Zoom. For Reinhart, it was important to provide her personal support to students throughout their journey. She emailed and called students to provide encouragement to help them overcome the challenges of completing their studies and mastering new skills.

Faculty say they share a sense of pride with the newly-trained CNAs who are now receiving job offers.

“There are several requests for a letter of recommendation currently in my emails,” said Reinhart. “I can say that this group of students was mature, respectful, diligent, and demonstrated compassion -- all the qualities we look for in health care providers.”

Career outlook

Faculty predict most students who complete the CNA training will work in long-term care facilities. Typically, CNAs complete tasks that focus on personal care for the patient such as assisting the person with daily life activities such as eating meals and getting dressed. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the median wage is wage of about $37,300 annually for a CNA. Due to a dire shortage of healthcare workers, many employers are now offering signing bonuses. In an effort to retain workers, there are also employers who pay for CNAs to continue their healthcare education and become licensed practical nurses.

About Hennepin Technical College
Founded in 1972, Hennepin Technical College (HTC) is the largest stand-alone technical college in Minnesota. With campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, the college offers degree and non-degree courses in over 45 programs. Achieving a high job placement rate, HTC prepares students for in-demand and high-paying employment opportunities.

Last updated by mdibba : 2022-04-28 12:41:36