This summer, 48 students successfully completed Moraine Park Technical College’s Nursing Assistant (CNA) boot camps – a rigorous three-week learning experience. Additional camps are planned for next summer, according to Anne Lemke, TAACCCT 3 & 4 grant manager.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant program, the CNA boot camps condense a typical 8- or 16-week, three-credit Nursing Assistant course into an accelerated format. They provide classroom theory, laboratory experience and clinical learning that teaches students the skills to perform duties such as taking vital signs, bathing, dressing, making beds and other direct resident care. Community agencies are used for clinical learning and include long-term care settings.
Moraine Park Technical College’s Nursing Assistant (CNA) boot camp graduates from left to right: Andrea Hauser, Wendy Schuster, Aleasha Papenfuss, Stephanie Rempel, Lizbeth Perez, Ashley Schwartz, Christine DeHaven , MPTC Instructor Tina Cordell, Kelly Easterson.
Offered at all Moraine Park campuses – Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend – the grant funded CNA boot camps will continue for an additional two summers.
Approximately 150 students are expected to complete the camps, said Lemke, qualifying them to take the Pearson Vue Wisconsin Nurse Aide Certification Exam. “CNA training is required for students interested in pursuing many healthcare related fields, including nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy,” she said. “At Moraine Park, students must successfully complete the Nursing Assistant course prior to enrolling in the Associate Degree Nurse program.” Some CNAs go straight into the workforce. Others continue their studies toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
All 16 Wisconsin Technical Colleges, including Moraine Park, are three-year grant recipients, with each institution developing its own supplemental healthcare programs under the Act 4 Healthcare consortium project. “Moraine Park already offers CNA classes during the academic year,” said Lemke. “But the classes are in demand and many times filled to capacity. We felt there was a need for this condensed summer offering.”
Boot camp instructor Tina Cordell enjoys teaching an array of students – ranging from 18 to 60 years of age – within a small class environment. Cordell is a registered nurse and holds a master’s degree in nurse education. “It’s a very busy full-time job for each of the three week sessions,” she said of the course. Students complete the theory portion of the course online on their own time and master hands-on skills for 120 hours of training in the classroom and clinical settings. A grade of C or better and 100 percent attendance are required for successful class completion. Boot camp sizes are capped at 10 students, creating an intimate learning environment.
“All of the students I’m still in contact with have passed certification and are working or pursuing employment,” said Cordell. “It’s a great program.”
“I loved the smaller classes,” added Ashley Schwartz of Fond du Lac. “Everyone got really close and worked well together. At times, the class was a little overwhelming, but we worked through it together.”
Schwartz, who is enrolled in Moraine Park’s Associate Degree Nurse program, plans to transfer after this year to Marian University, in Fond du Lac, to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing as part of a nursing articulation agreement between the two colleges.
After completing the boot camp, she quickly earned her CNA Certification and landed a patient care technician position at Beaver Dam Community Hospital. “My main duties include starting IVs, drawing blood, EKGs, answering phones, transferring patients and arranging ambulances and flight,” she said.
Several clinical sites serve as training grounds for students engaged in the CNA boot camps, including Hillside Manor, in Beaver Dam; Fond du Lac Lutheran Home, in Fond du Lac; as well as Samaritan Health Center and Cedar Community, both in West Bend.
Gary Thorpe, chief human resource officer at Lutheran Home, sees a continued need for new CNAs each year. The supplemental boot camps work to help satisfy a statewide shortage.
“Fond du Lac Lutheran Homes has hired numerous Moraine Park CNA graduates with great success,” said Thorpe. “Our partnership with Moraine Park has been successful in providing a forum for future caregivers to gain hands-on training.”
The boot camp format appeals to many, added Lemke. “Displaced workers, veterans, and students on summer breaks can complete their Nursing Assistant course in a three-week accelerated format and take the certification exam,” she said. In doing so, they quickly move forward on their path of continued healthcare education and/or employment.
In order to participate in the 2016 summer grant funded boot camps, students must attend an information session, complete a criminal background check and meet specific health requirements.
To discover more, visit morainepark.edu/4health or call Moraine Park at 920-924-3329.