CNA program an affordable option

  By Julie Fann
star staff

  What do you do if you can't afford to go to college; you can't find meaningful work, and you lack job skills? A Certified Nursing Assistant Program, offered locally at various nursing homes as well as the Tennessee Technology Center, is an option for those who need a solution to unemployment.
  "There are local facilities that will pay for a student's training such as Lifecare Health Center, Hermitage Health Care, Hillview, and Appalachian Christian Village in Johnson City," said Pat Roark, director of the CNA program at the center. Also, since 1983, when the Tennessee Department of Health mandated that students pass a state exam and become certified, Roark has taught a four-week program at TTC that is offered eight times a year.
  The next Certified Nursing Assistant course at TTC begins Jan. 10. The cost of the course is $415, and registration has already begun.
  "There is no financial aid provided because it's such a short program, but sometimes the Department of Human Services and the Alliance for Business and Training will provide funding for students to go to school. Also, for students under 21, East Tennessee State University offers funding for out-of-school youth," Roark said.
  During the first two weeks of the course at TTC, students learn basic nursing care procedures such as how to take vital signs, give bed baths, observe safety and sanitation rules, and transfer patients from place to place. Students also learn about the different body systems and how they affect the elderly.
  "There is quite a bit taught on the cognitive and spiritual/mental aspects of aging as well," Roark said.
  Students receive their clinical training at local nursing homes during the last two weeks of the program.
  Roark received her B.S. degree in nursing from ETSU. She is also the director for the center's Dietary Manager Program online. Barbara Benfield, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), is the instructor for the CNA course.
  One of the greatest benefits of the program is that, in order to qualify, students do not need a high school diploma or a GED equivalent.
  Though there is no "formal" graduation for students, something about their accomplishment is published in a local newspaper with their photo, and they receive a certificate of completion.