GREAT FALLS — For more than a year, Great Falls College-MSU has been moving students from their college to more than a dozen employers thanks to its Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. They recently finished their first full year with the program in time for National Nurses Week.
National Nurses Week is to celebrate the work that nurses put in during their jobs and to highlight their profession.
“When I think of Nurses Week, it is really an opportunity to celebrate what we get to do in our profession each and every day,” said Rayn Ginatty, the Chief Nursing Officer at Benefis Health System.
Benefis is one of about a dozen entities that partners with the college. They come to classes to help teach students about the healthcare industry.
Great Falls College's Lifelong Learning Center director Tammie Hickey said starting the program was critical so they could help address worker shortages.
“One of the first things I wanted to start was a CNA program. We were in a healthcare crisis because of the pandemic and so that was extremely important,” Hickey said. “We’ve expanded with the offerings since then with the home health aide, the paid feeding assistant, and medication aid because it’s absolutely needed. Businesses are hurting for healthcare workers.”
In the first year, the CNA program has impacted more than a dozen businesses who also come to the school and teach students about what they have to offer. Benefis is one of them and they say it is a worthy partnership to address their needs and their patients’ needs.
“You give a lot of yourself. You give. It’s a part of who you are. You can’t get away from that,” Ginnaty said. “Throughout the last couple years of the pandemic, it’s certainly had a toll. In a perfect world, we’d probably have 70 more nurses than we have today. The partnerships we have with the colleges are priceless.”
It’s not just the CNA program helping address healthcare shortage needs. The college also expanded to offer more courses. They say the CNA program itself has a 100% completion rate and more than 90% passing their exams for licensure on the first attempt.
“It’s been a great benefit. We’ve placed 60 or so people back into healthcare because of our classes,” program director Lori Henderson said. “The pandemic certainly was the impetus to get these going. Once we got our feet on the ground with the CNA program, we recognized that we should get these other ones going to help in any area we could.”
The course is $850, which includes books, testing fees, CPR certification, and job placement assistance. Click here to learn more about the CNA program.
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