The Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus has completed the first non-credit Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program for the fall 2019 semester. The program was a combined effort between the Business and Community Outreach Department, Adult Education, and the Ozark Nursing Home.
Adult Education of Franklin, Logan, and Johnson counties recruited students and placed them into the short term class, in preparation for certification in under four weeks.
Thanks to the Arkansas Workforce Challenge, which pays for expenses such as books, scrubs, testing, and curriculum, students completed the program for free.
Justin Smith, Business and Community Outreach Department Chief Officer, stated, "ATU-Ozark assisted students in receiving nationally recognized credentials at no cost. The CNA program provided community employers with filling a much-needed gap in finding certified nursing assistants.”
The students participated in intense training, including four weeks of classroom/lab instruction followed by clinical training at the Ozark Nursing Home. The program also introduced students to the Ozark Campus and let them experience the campus’s culture.
Said Smith, "It helped open their eyes to additional programs available at ATU-Ozark, including a nursing degree or other training.”
Another aspect that has made the project work is a well-qualified instructor. According to Smith, "We were able to find an outstanding instructor in Dusty Smith, former Charleston Schools nurse with experience teaching CNA. The students love her, and having a great instructor that connects with the students helps our retention of students and sees them through to the end."
ATU Adult Education Director Regina Olson stated, "Adult Education is excited to partner with ATU-Ozark in this endeavor. Certified Nursing Assistants are in high demand in our area, and this class provides an excellent opportunity to create a career pathway for our students. We desire to make a strong impact in our community and provide employment opportunities for our students and employees for our local businesses. Our WIOA partners and Arkansas scholarships make it available at absolutely no cost for our students.”
The Ozark Campus hopes to offer the CNA non-credit program approximately four to six times per year and qualify about 50 students per year.