New ATU-Ozark Training Responds to Health Care Need

ATU-Ozark Campus Entrance Sign March 2022

Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus has achieved Arkansas State Board of Nursing approval to offer programming in medication assistant-certified (MA-C).

The MA–C program provides certified nursing assistants (CNAs) with additional training to improve long-term care staffing practices supporting better patient care. The 100-clock hour training enables the nursing assistant, under the supervision of a registered nurse, to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide prescribed patient medications.

“The addition of MA-C training creates the next step in a certified nursing assistant’s career ladder,” said Dr. Sheila Jacobs, ATU-Ozark chief academic officer. “By completing this training, existing CNAs may acquire the knowledge and skills to sit for certification. The approved MA-C program is a response to support a critical need with patient caregivers. The MA-C program also adds an additional component for employee recruitment and retention in long-term care facilities.

“This is a mission-driven initiative that is a direct response to address the documented health care needs of our region,” continued Jacobs. “ATU-Ozark Campus is proud of the addition of this program, and we are committed to the success of our MA-C students.”

ATU-Ozark has partnered with Methodist Village Senior Living in Fort Smith on a pilot program for MA-C training. Twelve CNAs employed at Methodist Village will participate in the pilot program.

“We are extremely excited to be the first Arkansas Tech University-Ozark satellite location for the new medication assistant program,” said Melissa Curry, chief executive officer at Methodist Village Senior Living. “The MA-C program was a long time coming and much needed in our state. The graduates from the program will be able to administer medications in long-term care facilities, allowing nurses to focus on the physical care of their residents. This program will definitely help the staffing challenges in health care today. We look forward to our first class graduating May 27.”

Following the Methodist Village pilot, ATU-Ozark will open the MA-C training program to other facilities wishing to register their employees.

A certified nursing assistant listed in good standing on the state’s certified nurse aide registry may gain admission to the program if the CNA has maintained registration on the state’s certified nurse aide registry continuously for a minimum of one year, has completed at least one continuous year of full-time experience as a certified nurse aide in Arkansas, is currently employed at a designated facility, has a high school diploma or the equivalent and has successfully completed a literacy and reading comprehension screening process (ACT, Accuplacer, COMPASS).

If none is on file, students will be given an Accuplacer exam prior to entry.

“We are proud to be one of the few approved programs in the state to teach the MA-C program,” said Justin Smith, chief business and community outreach officer at ATU-Ozark. “We will be able to serve our regional long-term care facilities with programming that adds value and capability to an already stressed sector after COVID. Ours will be the first non-credit program in the state where a student can get through quickly, test and start assisting their employer much sooner.”

Lisa Pittman, registered nursing instructor for ATU-Ozark, will direct the program and teach classes.

Facilities seeking more information or that wish to be added to the e-mail list to be notified when ATU-Ozark begins taking registrations may send e-mail to