New nursing assistant training program will be first to offer a paid apprenticeship
The University of Guam’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences and the Guam Department of Labor will begin a certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program in February to address this in-demand segment of the workforce. The Nursing Assistant Education Program will be the first one on island to offer a paid apprenticeship and guaranteed employment. It will be funded through federal grant money, meaning the program and the subsequent certification will be at no cost to the students.
Certified nursing assistants, commonly known as CNAs, work under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse preparing rooms and supplies, assisting with tests and procedures, and directly assisting patients.
The demand for CNAs on island and for CNA programs in the Pacific is growing, with 50 vacant positions for nursing assistants among the program’s three participating employers — Guam Regional Medical City, Guam Memorial Hospital, and Health Services of the Pacific—alone.
“It’s great exposure for people who may want to get into nursing but can’t right now and also for people who want a second career,” said Dean Margaret Hattori-Uchima of the School of Nursing & Health Sciences. “There are some people who want to go back into the workforce, so the CNA is a great program because they’re guaranteed employment.”
The Guam Board of Nurse Examiners approved the program in November.
The first cohort is expected to have 12 employees of GRMC and Health Services of the Pacific, or others in the community, who have an interest in the program. They will apprentice at GRMC and Health Services of the Pacific under CNAs. Future cohorts in the CNA training program will be selected by and will apprentice at GMH.
The Department of Labor will fund the students’ materials, testing, and certifications through its recently awarded State Expansion Grant, which will provide apprenticeship opportunities to 100 individuals in needed areas of the workforce.
“We initially started with telecommunications and construction, and so we decided to do heavy concentration on allied health care,” said Phyllis Topasna, program coordinator at the Guam Department of Labor. “It’s the one industry that has heavy demand, and we wanted to make sure we utilize some of our funding to touch allied health.”
The nursing assistant program will total 160 hours over three months.
“What’s innovative about this nursing assistant program — other than the paid apprenticeship — is that it’s more hours than what is required by the Board of Nursing,” Hattori-Uchima said. “We’re going above with 160 hours.”
Those interested in participating in future cohorts need to have a high school diploma and an interest in becoming a CNA and can contact UOG Apprenticeship Coordinator Danilo Bilong at (671) 735- 2650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (PR)