New Nursing Assistant program meets a growing need

There are 73 million baby boomers in the United States. By 2030, all of them will be 65 or older. Who’s going to take care of our aging population? 

Rogue Community College is stepping up—with the new Nursing Assistant program. This non-credit workforce training course is designed to prepare students in as little as six weeks to pass the nursing assistant certification exam through the Oregon State Board of Nursing. 

“Wherever there is a need for personal care, nursing assistants are there,” said Diane Hoover, director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education for RCC. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work under a licensed nurse’s supervision to provide vital care for patients in nursing homes, home care, assisted living, hospice, hospitals, community-based long-term care, correctional institutions, and other long-term care settings. Nursing assistants have extensive daily contact with each patient, helping patients of all ages perform the most basic daily tasks. They play a key role in the lives of their patients and in keeping the supervising nurse up to date on vital information about the patients’ conditions. 

Right now the Rogue Valley is facing a severe shortage of nursing assistants. Recent data suggests CNAs will be caring for 73 percent more retirees by 2029. The new Nursing Assistant program is a win-win, not only filling a gap in the workforce but also enabling students to launch a rewarding career in health care. “People need more opportunities to earn a living wage and stay local,” Diane said. “This is a strong growth field for those who are dedicated to nursing and helping others.” 

Students will study patient care, nutrition, safety, legal/ethical issues, physical and mental disease processes, vital signs and infection control, emergency care, and interpersonal skills. They’ll also experience hands-on training during a clinical portion of the course, where students are placed in long-term care clinical sites in Josephine or Jackson County to practice their nursing assistant skills. 

Is the Nursing Assistant program right for you? “To succeed in this field, a person needs to be compassionate, caring and patient,” Diane said. “CNAs are usually the primary caregivers in many facilities where they work. They will have more frequent contact with patients and residents than doctors and most nurses. A strong work ethic, good communication skills and a sense of humor often keep people in this field for many years.”  

For more information about the program, including where you can find financial assistance to cover the cost of tuition, visit the RCC website.