Caregivers train to become certified nursing assistants

HIGHER QUALITY OF CARE: Twenty caregivers with Catholic Social Service and Health Services of the Pacific began an apprenticeship program to become certified nursing assistants June 4 at the University of Guam. Photo courtesy of the University of Guam

A second class of apprentices began the three-month Nursing Assistant Education Program in June at the University of Guam to become certified nursing apprentices, UOG announced Tuesday. The program was launched in February under a federal grant and is the first CNA program on island to offer a paid apprenticeship.

The class has 20 students who are employed as caregivers with Catholic Social Service or Health Services of the Pacific.

"This will mean promotions for the individuals who obtain the certification, and it will also immediately elevate the quality of care in these organizations and on our island," stated Margaret Hattori-Uchima, dean of UOG's School of Nursing and Health Sciences, in a release. "Caregivers, in some cases, receive very little training, whereas these CNAs will receive 160 hours of training and will have to pass an exam."

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 Guam is growing with a higher vacancy rate than the U.S. mainland, Hattori-Uchima stated.

"Based on a needs assessment the school conducted in December among Guam Memorial Hospital, Guam Regional Medical City and Health Services of the Pacific, there was a 29% vacancy rate for nursing assistants, compared to the U.S. rate of 22%," according to the release.

$1.7M grant

Funding for the training program comes through the Guam Department of Labor via the State Apprenticeship Expansion grant, a $1.7 million grant to increase registered apprentices in Guam by 300 workers within allied health, telecommunications, construction and hospitality.

"We're yielding to the subject-matter experts as to what the workforce needs now," said Lina N. Hammond, program manager for the grant. "Those are the four in-demand industries."

The funding covers the students' tuition, uniforms, books, clearances and physical exams to be part of the program. Following the completion of 160 hours of classroom training and paid apprenticeships at their place of employment, the students will take the CNA exam to become officially certified.

Those interested in participating in future cohorts must have a high school diploma. Contact UOG apprenticeship coordinator Danilo Bilong at 735-2650 or dbilong@triton.uog.edu.

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