New Opportunities in Apprenticeship

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
CNA Apprenticeship Student Image

Nafisha Sheldon receives her CNA completion certificate at Renown Regional Medical Center on Nov. 16.

A new apprenticeship project that began in Fall Semester partners Truckee Meadows Community College with Renown Health in a program allowing students to take classes, earn an income, and become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) all at the same time.

Nine students began the program by applying and being interviewed at Renown Health in front of a panel of staff members. The students were then hired to work as Patient Safety Assistants (PSAs) at Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown Skilled Nursing, earning an hourly wage while starting their CNA coursework.

TMCC’s Nevada’s Apprenticeship Project pays for the participants’ tuition, lab fee, and workbook, including a loaner course textbook. The required Basic Life Support Provider CPR course is also covered by Nevada’s Apprenticeship Project. Renown Health provides each student a uniform.

“Renown is excited and passionate about this program where we can match individuals who are interested in health care and allow them the ability to work and have their schooling paid,” said Michelle Sanchez-Bickley, Vice President of Human Resources, Renown. “This allows these student employees to obtain valuable skills and immediately begin making meaningful contributions to our patients and our community.”

The Program

Renown pays the apprentices wages for both the classroom training and time on the floor.

“The students receive theory and lab instruction from Dolores Wonder, one of our most experienced faculty members,” said Susan Bluhm, TMCC CNA Professor and Coordinator of the CNA program. “The best part is that the classwork is all done at Renown. The theory, lab and clinical rotations are experienced at a working hospital and extended care facility.”

Emmanuel Ramiro is a Registered Nurse at Renown Regional Medical Center and also a CNA instructor for TMCC. He teaches the clinical sections of the semester-long program. The 168-hour program comprises 54 hours of lecture, 54 hours in the lab, and 60 clinical experience hours. Students earn six college credits for the course.

“Emy brings a wealth of hands-on, practical experience and know-how to the students,” Bluhm said.

Students started with theory and lab instruction for two five-and-a-half-hour days and worked as Patient Safety Assistants for three 10-hour shifts each week where they experienced the change of shifts.

“It’s good for the students to experience the transition and difference between shifts,” said CNA Professor Dolores Wonder.”

After the first few weeks of instruction and learning new skills, they moved up to the next stage of their training.

In the fifth week, students were assigned to a unit and became Nursing Assistants in Training, wearing a TMCC student badge. Units included the following:

  • Oncology
  • Skilled nursing facility
  • Medical; nephrology or general medical
  • Surgical; general or orthopedics
  • Telemetry; two units
  • Neuroscience

They were given increased responsibilities working with patients under the supervision of a CNA. These tasks included skills they had learned so far in their classes and labs.

“What we like about this program is that they’re thrust into the world of health care,” Bluhm said. “There are professional people all around them as they learn and grow into their profession.”

In the third stage of training, students took on the role of Nursing Assistant Apprentice, and their level of hands-on patient care increased with their new skills and knowledge.

Professor Wonder has found that students learning in this way experience their training as moving into a profession that they are proud to enter.

After completing the course, students are eligible to sit for the state certification exam. When they pass this test, they transition into the position of CNA at Renown Health. In this first cohort group, all nine apprentices passed their state examination.

The Future

“Students say they know how lucky they are to be in this program and know what a great opportunity it is,” Bluhm said. “The project is successful and we hope to continue the collaboration between TMCC, Renown Health, and the Department of Labor.”

Sanchez-Bickley agrees.

“We are appreciative of the collaborative relationship with TMCC and are looking forward to the success of not only these first recipients but the expansion of the program as well,” she said.

For more information about the Apprenticeship Project partnership with Renown Health and new cohort groups being formed, please contact the Technical Sciences DivisionNevada’s Apprenticeship Project at 775-856-5304.

Reprinted with permission by the Nevada State Board of Nursing. First published in Nursing News, December 2017.