Northern Essex Community College Meets Certified Nurse Assistant Demand, Recruits for Free Program

This group of students graduated from Northern Essex Community College’s Certified Nurse Assistant Program in late March. (Courtesy photograph.)

Northern Essex Community College is joining with area health care employers to meet an urgent need for certified nurse assistants and is now recruiting for free, grant-funded programs beginning in May, June and August.

After completing the four-week training, graduates are prepared to take the Massachusetts Red Cross Nurse Aide Certification Exam. The college’s Center for Corporate and Community Education was able to bring the program back after the COVID-19 outbreak last year forced it to cancel its grant-funded CNA Training Program.

“We were struggling to determine how we could transition the classroom portion of the program to online delivery and find a healthcare facility for the clinical portion of the program,” said Margaret Glenn, program director.

The college accomplished both goals with help from Haverhill’s Hannah Duston Healthcare Center which offered its operation as a site for clinical training. Last May, the college became the first to receive approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to offer CNA training in the new format and went on to graduate 100 CNAs. The program has close to a 100% placement rate graduates are already working at Lawrence General, Hannah Duston, Penacook Place, Sutton Hill and Prescott House.

“If they want a job, they’re getting a job,” says Heather Waniga, program coordinator. “Hannah Duston is hiring many of our grads, right from their clinical experience.”

In many cases, employers are also sponsoring the CNAs, covering the cost of the program.

The four-week program includes two weeks of class time, delivered online; two days of skills practice, held at the CNA Skills Lab on the college’s Lawrence Campus; and a 25-hour clinical, which is conducted at Hannah Duston.

Students in the program have a wide mix of ages and backgrounds, ranging from teenagers to career changers in their mid-50s. For more information, contact Waniga, at [email protected].

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