Valley View Home has launched a new program of inspiring options designed to empower the certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who are so vital to patient care.
The CNA career ladder options include CNA II (peer mentor), CNA III, job coach and medication aide II.
Qualifying CNAs will be progressively trained in a manner designed to foster the kind of peer-to-peer mentoring that can make a positive difference and enhance job satisfaction and fulfillment, as well as provide an increase in monetary compensation.
“I believe a CNA is one of the most important jobs in a nursing facility,” said Kandi Svenningson, administrator of Valley View Home. “CNAs are front line staff attending to the most intimate of resident needs, often times for less than adequate wages and little recognition for the great work they do.
“The CNA Career Ladder Program was created as an effort to change the mindset that being a CNA is a dead-end job. In a workforce of chronically high turnover, the development of this program could not be more crucial.”
Svenningson said Valley View employs about 40 CNAs, but they could easily use 50, if not 60.
Minnie Cutler is ready to step up this ladder. The North Carolina native has been in Glasgow for only a year, but she has been a CNA for 22 years.
“If they can offer to advance my career, I’m down for it,” Cutler said.
Daniel Dunn, a recent graduate of Glasgow High School, has been at Valley View for 10 months.
“It’s not long but I’m loving it,” Dunn said.
He is going into the CNA II program and plans to continue his education with a Valley View scholarship to nursing school.
In Sunshine Square, the Alzheimer’s unit at Valley View, Tammy Fewer cares for people who need a lot of compassion. She has been a CNA for a long time, starting in Big Sandy, and has done home care, hospice care and even ER work. She noted that she was also a bartender for 27 years, so she “can deal with mood swings.”
Fewer said she is looking forward to the career ladder.
“I would like to better the people and the people who take care of them,” she said.
The first rung up the ladder, CNA II, is peer mentoring of a new staff person. It involves extra duties, participating in a CNA organization and facilitating staff meetings. CNA IIIs will take on a special project and educate their peers about it.
To be a job coach, a candidate has to have been a peer mentor for one year and be recommended by the director of nursing. The job coach helps retrain a person with job problems.
A medication aide II receives 100 hours of training, both online and clinical, takes a state exam, and then is certified to pass medications. Two years’ experience as a CNA and a high school diploma or GED are required.
“CNAs are hard to find,” Svenningson said. “People think it’s a nowhere job but we’re trying to make them realize they can make a career of this. CNAs are the heart of the building, the ones we need.”