By MORGAN MANNS
A local nursing home is looking to fill a growing need for nurse aides.
Through a partnership with an area educational institution, Good Shepherd Home is offering free classes to individuals interested in receiving a nurse aide certificate.
“There’s a tremendous shortage in state tested nurse aides,” GSH Executive Director Chris Widman said. “And it’s not just in Fostoria and not just in the tri-county area. It’s Ohio. There’s a shortage of qualified, caring individuals.”
GSH partnered with Sentinel Technical Career Center to offer free STNA classes at the nursing home two years ago. Widman said GSH provides an instructor and the facility while Sentinel provides the program and curriculum.
GSH Assistant Director of Nursing Deb Wilt, who instructs the courses, brought the idea of offering free STNA classes to get people interested in the field and, when the news spread, the class filled up immediately.
“STNAs are needed. Not just at Good Shepherd but in all long-term care facilities in Seneca County,” Wilt said. “There’s a large population of Seneca County residents looking for jobs. I thought if we could give free classes, it would allow them to get a job and (allow nursing home) residents to be cared for.”
Students complete 59 hours of class time and 16 hours of clinical work with residents.
Wilt said the course offers students the same knowledge and experience as if they were taking the classes in a school setting. She follows curriculum from the Nurse Aide Training Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP), which is set by the Ohio Department of Health.
After the course is completed, students have the option of applying for a job at GSH or seeking employment elsewhere.
“They’re not under any obligation to work for us and we’re not under any obligation to hire them when they’re done,” Widman said.
The free courses are offered quarterly and take roughly 3-4 weeks to complete.
Since July 6, 2015, the collaboration between Sentinel and GSH has offered 11 free STNA classes, serving nearly 150 area adult students.
“We have people who come to the class because they’re interested in getting that certification and they go on to work in the field,” Widman said. “But we also have people who come to the class to have that background. Maybe they’re caring for a loved one at home and they want to learn more about how to take care of them.”
The partnership between the nursing home and career center dates back to before the STNA courses, according to Widman. Students at Sentinel have often completed clinicals at GSH and instructors have brought their classes over to see long-term care in person.
“We’ve been good partners with Sentinel for a long time,” he said, adding, “A lot of our staff received training at Sentinel as well.”
Wilt, who also serves as program coordinator for Sentinel and a registered nurse who evaluates nurse aide testing, said the program has been “very successful.”
“It’s turned out to be very positive,” she said. “We’ve gotten people jobs and furthered their education in nurses training.”
Students going through the course are required to have a high school diploma, according to Wilt, who explained the program is more adult-oriented. Students enrolled in the class have ranged in ages from 18-70.
Applicants are also required to receive background checks, paid for by GSH, to ensure the safety of other students, staff and nursing home residents. While it’s not a requirement per the program, Wilt said GSH officials felt it was an appropriate requirement.
The next free STNA course at GSH is scheduled for September.
Those interested in signing up may do so by visiting GSH’s reception desk, 725 Columbus Ave., to fill out an application. Names will be added to a waiting list and staff will get back with potential students when the class is about to begin.
“STNA is one of the hardest jobs out there. It’s a very rewarding job, but it’s very demanding in a variety of ways,” Widman said. “Not everyone has a personality to be a caregiver but we’re interested in getting more people trained. We have every intention of continuing to offer it as long as people are interested.”
For more information on the class, contact Wilt or Widman at 419-937-1801.