Who says that there is no such thing as free CNA training classes? Not the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH)! In cooperation with Tulsa Community College and Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education a fund of $371,000 has been established which will cover the cost of training approximately 900-1,000 CNA students in 2010.
The money to provide free training classes comes from penalties collected from nursing homes that were fined by OSDH for delivering substandard care. It is possible that Certified Nursing Assistants from these very same nursing homes will be turn out to be beneficiaries of the scholarship, which has aims of improving overall patient care in long-term care facilities. The core of the free CNA program is to upgrade the skills and knowledge of nursing assistants to a level CNA 2. Tulsa Community College also offers more advanced training for those nursing assistants who wish to advance to the CNA 3 level, but this level is not currently funded.
To fund the program, the OSDH is using civil monetary penalties collected by the agency from nursing homes that were fined for delivering substandard care. CNAs who work with long-term care patients in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are eligible to apply for the OSDH-funded training. The aim of the program is to serve as a career ladder for working CNAs – appropriately named the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Career Ladder Program. The new course blends online learning with traditional classroom and lab work geared towards passing a CNA skills test. All students must have already completed online coursework and have reliable computer access in order to participate in this program.
All applicants to the program must be already accepted to Tulsa Community College. However, admission to the college does not guarantee admission into the free CNA training program, nor a guarantee of funding. Early application is encouraged, as funding and space is limited. In order to be eligible for funding consideration, all applicants must take and pass the College Placement Test (Reading and Sentence Skills only). The minimum score that an applicant must achieve is 80. Additionally, all applicants are expected to have completed a minimum of 12 college credit hours, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additionally, all applicants must have worked in a health care facility for a minimum of six months. All applications must include a letter of recommendation from their administrator.
The free CNA training classes consist of 30 hours, comprising of 11 modules, each three hours long. The five full days of training will focus on safety, teamwork, aging and illness, communication, nutrition, quality of life, dementia care, the importance of family, culture change and restorative care, spirituality, and dying. Students will then need to take and pass the state exam to receive their CNA certification.
Within the state of Oklahoma, there are approximately 66,000 individuals on the CNA Registry certified or entitled to renew their licenses as long-term care aides. Most of the 66,000 are considered potentially eligible to apply to this free CNA program. Therefore, the competition is potentially very high, since only 900-1,000 students will be funded in 2010. If accepted, students will be notified by mail, which will also include information and instructions about immunization requirements, a criminal background check, and a drug screening test.
In addition to Oklahoma’s program, there are other free CNA training classes, some of which are available online. Be certain to check whether the training programs are specifically designed as preparation to take the CNA exam, or for general informational purposes. Note that the Red Cross CNA classes are no longer free.
“Free CNA Training Classes” written by Brenne Meirowitz, B.A., M.S., M.A.