Opportunities for Success in TMCC's CNA Program

CNA students practicing procedure.
Rebecca A. Eckland

As we start another new year—and another decade—we anticipate that some of you might be searching for ways to make positive changes in your life. If you’ve been dreaming of making a career change and following your dream of working in the medical field, we have some amazing news for you!

Even if your end-goal is to specialize in some aspect of the medical field, everyone has to start somewhere. And TMCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program is a great place to begin your journey into a hands-on, helping profession.

Not sure? If the program’s new home at the Meadowood Center—with new lab spaces and classrooms—isn't enough to convince you, we compiled seven reasons why a career as a CNA could be your next step in your pursuit of a meaningful career that enables you to help others in very important ways.

Reasons-at-a-Glance to Become a CNA:

Reason #1: What other career only takes one semester of a college education? TMCC’s CNA program takes one semester to complete and meets the Nevada State Board of Nursing eligibility requirements for students to take the NSBN CNA Clinical Skills Competency Exam and the Written Knowledge Exam. With day, evening and weekend classes, you can be sure to find classes that fit your schedule. The CNA program utilizes classroom, laboratory, and clinical environments, and awards completers with six academic credits. What can students expect from TMCC’s CNA? “To get in, get out, and get a job,” said CNA Professor Susan Bluhm.

Reason #2: The employment outlook is great, and the job security is better. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase of 18% through 2024 (whereas the average job growth rate is 7%.) Because most of us will need a helping hand at some point in our life due to illness or age, there will always be a demand for CNAs—in fact, the demand for this career choice is among the highest of all careers. This also means that as a CNA, you will have your choice of job environments.

Reason #3: You don’t like where you work? As a CNA, that’s easy to change. Because there are so many job opportunities, you’re guaranteed not to be “stuck” in any one situation. CNAs are needed in many different situations: hospitals, hospice care, long-term care facilities, jails and prisons, military, psychiatric hospitals and many more. Who knows? You may find your true calling where you least expected it.

Reason #4: No two days at work will ever be exactly the same. If nothing sounds worse than a boring job in which every day is like the one before it, we promise that a career as a CNA will not be like that at all. Every day, you will interact and help different patients who will each present with different needs. You’ll utilize a wide variety of hands-on care techniques and interact with other medical professionals. Your job will be many things, but we promise that it will never be boring.

Reason #5: You want to help people, and you abhor the idea of a desk job. If you like helping people and want a career doing exactly that, a CNA enables you to help patients with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These are the sometimes small tasks a person does to take care of themselves each day that, due to injury, illness or age, become impossible. This means you could be lifting, wheeling, grooming, dressing, feeding, cleaning, planning, preparing, keeping company, and other activities for others who truly need your help. Considering all this daily activity, we can also guarantee that as a CNA, you will certainly not have a “desk job.”

Reason #6: Get a head-start on other medical professions. If you’re got your sights set on nursing or medical school, becoming a CNA first can be a great way to see if the medical field is right for you. As a CNA, you’ll gain valuable skills that you can use for your entire career. The key, though, is not to rush through it. Working closely with patients will help you to cultivate an excellent bedside manner, effective communication, and interpersonal skills, not to mention the hands-on skills needed in the medical profession. An added bonus? As a CNA, you can develop professional relationships with other medical professionals that can be useful references when you’re truly ready to take that next step. But, don’t feel like you have to. “The CNA is a noble career,” said Bluhm.

Reason #7: You can get paid to go to school, and can graduate with a career in place. Through a special partnership with Renown and Nevada’s Apprenticeship Project, the CNA program at TMCC can offer you a special apprenticeship opportunity. Students who are in this program go to school and work as a CNA Apprentice while being paid. Students shadow Renown staff and complete their clinical hours in an acute care setting, where they will receive education and experience to be a successful clinician. Upon completion of the program, participants are eligible to obtain their CNA license and transfer directly into a CNA position at Renown Health. And, while the starting salary for a CNA is on the modest side, when you include benefits and the fact that every graduate from the CNA Program has a job (or three) waiting for them, that doesn’t seem half bad.

Opportunities Galore

If you’re looking to jump-start your career in the medical profession, look no further than TMCC’s CNA program where students are guaranteed to have a job when they successfully complete the program. “I get calls from recruiters every day,” said Bluhm, who connects students to career opportunities with hospitals like Renown, Northern Nevada Medical Center, armed services, home health care/hospice and long-term care facilities in the Reno/Sparks area.

For more information about the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program, contact the department at 775-824-8640. For more information about the CNA Apprenticeship Program, contact TMCC’s Apprenticeship Navigator Lauren Gatto at 775-856-5327.