The Gloucester County board of commissioners, in collaboration with Rowan College of South Jersey and the Gloucester County Workforce Development Board, on Wednesday celebrated the launch of a new program designed to provide a free education to aspiring Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses, while ensuring that seniors residing in Gloucester County’s nursing homes receive the highest level of care for years to come.
“The Gloucester County board of commissioners are pleased to partner with Rowan College of South Jersey and the Gloucester County Workforce Development Board to deliver qualified Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses in an area that suffers from labor shortages,” Frank DiMarco, commissioner director, said. “By taking the bold step to offer no-cost training programs for aides and steep tuition discounts for applicable nursing students with direct employment opportunities is a game-changer for the nursing home industry.”
Health care support occupations are the third-most in-demand occupational sector in Gloucester County, with 1,364 in-county job openings available for CNAs alone, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
“We’re meeting a specific need for county-run facilities, but the picture is much broader than that,” Heather Simmons, commissioner deputy director, said. “We are working to ensure that the people of our communities are prepared to go on to careers that are satisfying and rewarding. We want them to stay in our communities. We want them to do well, and we also want our employers to prosper.”
Beginning this September, RCSJ will run daytime and evening CNA cohort trainings out of the new Gloucester County Allied Health Center at no cost to eligible participants. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates must pass the Department of Health’s CNA exam to obtain certification prior to employment.
RCSJ’s CNA program includes 50 hours of in-classroom education and 40 hours of on-site clinical experience; the program can be completed in 8-9 weeks. Students learn basic care skills including monitoring vital signs, controlling infections, transferring and feeding clients, as well as the Heimlich maneuver. Communication skills, body mechanics, bed making, restorative care and care of the dying client are among the topics covered.
The free tuition program will also be available to those interested in a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse. The next LPN cohort will begin in May 2024. Information sessions for this selective admissions program begin in September and training will take place on the Cumberland campus in Vineland.
Participants in the Gloucester County Allied Health program must possess a high school diploma or equivalency, complete an online “Introduction to HIPPA” course, submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting, and be up to date on all immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preference will be given to residents of Gloucester County.
At the successful completion of the program, graduates who earn their state licensure will be eligible for open positions in care facilities throughout Gloucester County.