By: Follow South Jersey Staff
DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The Gloucester County Board of Commissioners, in collaboration with Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) and the Gloucester County Workforce Development Board, announced a new program designed to provide a free education to aspiring Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), 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,” stated Frank J. DiMarco, Commissioner Director in a press release from the county. “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.”
According to the press release, healthcare 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. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates demand within the occupation will continue to grow, resulting in a 29% increase in CNA job openings by 2030.
“We’re meeting a specific need for county-run facilities, but the picture is much broader than that,” said Heather Simmons, Commissioner Deputy Director. “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 N.J. 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 (LPN). The next LPN cohort will begin in May 2024. Information sessions for this selective admissions program begin in September 2023 and training will take place on the Cumberland campus in Vineland.
“We are a college built on service to the community. It’s in our DNA,” reflected Dr. Frederick Keating, RCSJ President. “We have this partnership with the County and Workforce Development, we have scholarships, the Community College Opportunity Grant – if members of our community want an education and a promising career, we can take care of the money part. We just need people with the heart and soul to enter the arena of geriatric healthcare at a time of great need.”
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 CDC. Preference will be given to residents of Gloucester County.
“The Gloucester County Workforce Development Board is proud to be a partner in this innovative industry initiative,” commented Michelle Shirey, Associate Vice President of Workforce Innovation. “WIOA training funds will be used in a strategic manner that supports industry-driven training to equip a diverse pool of individuals with the necessary credentials they need to succeed.”
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. Vacancy preference will be given to the Gloucester County Shady Lane Nursing Home – a 60-bed, long-term care facility in Clarksboro, N.J. that has been a part of Gloucester Country’s tradition since the 1800s. Shady Lane offers full-time, part-time and per-diem scheduling options, with a starting salary of $21 per hour for CNAs and $33 per hour for LPNs.
“Our County is investing in careers and getting people educated, but also taking care of residents that need it at a very unique time in their lives,” remarked Jim Jefferson, Commissioner Liaison to Human Services. “Families need the care provided by Shady Lane. There’s so much good that goes on there and I believe we’re taking a top-notch facility and making it even better.”
For more information on earning your CNA or LPN certificate for free through the Gloucester County Allied Health Program, visit RCSJ.edu/GCHealth.
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