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Program helps train certified nursing assistants amid pandemic shortage

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Daily Herald | Oct 16, 2021

In this undated photo, Janna West works as a CNA/patient care tech at Ogden Regional Medical Center. (Courtesy Craig Bielik, Ogden Regional Medical Center)

Finding health care workers quickly during the pandemic became a pressing need, so Ogden Regional Medical Center started a hire-and-train program for new certified nursing assistants.

“COVID created an undesirable circumstance where a lot of health care workers left to take other job opportunities,” said David Perkins, chief nursing officer at Ogden Regional. “A lot of people found it to be unsettling and they left the market to take on other jobs that had more of a known direction or outcome.”

The five-week program, entitled StarTech, includes three weeks in the classroom and two weeks in a clinical setting. After training, employees are asked to work three 12-hour shifts per week including rotating weekends and holidays.

Anybody can enroll,” Perkins said. “You don’t have to have prior experience in health care. In fact, we’ve had a lot of unique people sign up, including folks who worked in retail, farming, fast food and plumbing. We had one lady come from the Midwest who had a very successful career but wanted a change.”

Bella Lopes of Layton said she heard about the program while working as a COVID-19 door screener at the hospital.

“One of the things that appealed to me the most was the length of the program,” Lopes said. “Being busy with school, it was nice to be able to complete this program in a timely manner and I was impressed with how much I learned in such a short amount of time.”

Lopes is a senior at the University of Utah and plans to apply for medical school. She said the program allowed her to gain experience of what it’s like working in a hospital.

“With the CNA program, I have been able to gain patient exposure and experience what the hospital is like out on the floors,” she said.

Janna West of Syracuse said after graduate school she immediately jumped into administration and felt like her hands were tied when it came to advocating for her patients without the clinical knowledge and experience. When she heard about the program, she felt like it was a step in the right direction.

“Being able to provide hands-on care to patients in their most vulnerable state is extremely special,” West said. “I take so much pride in my role in caring for patients and love being able to provide peace of mind to family members. I check blood sugars, keep patients clean and tend to their basic needs.”

Perkins said CNAs do an incredible amount of work and provide a lot of pertinent overall health and wellness care for the patient.

“We train them on-site, get them competent and they function in a patient care tech role,” he said. “We try to keep the class size small so we can really focus on each person. To enroll, go to http://ogdenregional.com, create a profile and click on apply. After reviewing your application, you will be lined up with a recruiter who will schedule an interview.”

“If you have a heart for helping others and need any validation in your decision to join the health care industry, I’d love to chat. You won’t regret it,” West said.


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