WATCH | National Park College to offer free CNA, MA-C training

Equipment, including mannequins for patients, is shown in the newly established CNA classroom at the NPC Adult Education Center’s Hammond Drive on Monday. - Submitted photo

The National Park College Adult Education Center will offer free Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Assistant-Certified training after receiving a one-year, $82,919.64 grant from the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, Adult Education Section.

Bill Ritter, NPC director of adult education, said the two new programs will help both the people and the businesses in the community.

"This program is very unique because it's entirely industry-driven," he said Monday following the announcement. "It started with the long-term care facilities in the area who have a very strong need for CNAs and who also have a very strong need for certified medical assistants."

Ritter took that need to the director of the Arkansas Adult Education Section of the Department of Workforce Services, Trenia Miles, who helped make the grant available.

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Although there is no firm start date yet for classes in either program, he said they are building the first class now and hope to start within the next few weeks.

The CNA program training will be conducted at the center's Hammond Drive location on the former Gardner STEM Magnet School campus, Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to a news release, it includes all the classroom and skills training required by the Arkansas Division of Human Services, Office of Long-term Care.

The program includes 17 days of classroom and skills instruction and two days of clinical instruction through Ascend Healthcare at Lakewood Therapy and Living Center. Testing will follow the classroom and clinical portions of the program.

The MA-C program, Ritter noted, will likely be between four and six weeks long, and be held at the Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences at NPC. It is designed to prepare CNAs to administer select medications under the guidance and supervision of licensed nurses.

Using some of the same resources used by NPC nursing students, it will include all classroom, lab, and clinical training required by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. The program's clinical components will be held at various long-term care facilities in Hot Springs.

"Adult education departments nationwide have been tasked with developing ways to prepare people for good paying jobs in a very short amount of time," he said. "And a CNA program and medical assistant program -- those are two things that we could help people get through very quickly and get into the workforce. Someone can come straight out of high school right into this program and be working in the health care field in a very good, stable entry-level job within a matter of weeks."

Priscilla Anderson-Gullion, head instructor for the CNA program, said it is a really good plan to help people to get into the workforce. Through the program, she said, she hopes to show students how good a career in health care can be and the many advancement opportunities available.

"I would encourage those who are interested to contact us and realize that they need to get in pretty quick, because I would like to get this program started pretty quick. I'm excited because I feel like this is a step for anyone to grow. I mean, the sky's the limit when you get into health care. There are so many venues in health care that are available for anyone, and that includes men and women," she said.

Ritter noted a person can enter the CNA program at no cost, "get a good job as a certified nursing assistant, work for a year, enter the medication assistant program, get a little bit of a raise -- a little bit better responsibilities so they're progressing their career -- and then they can go straight into the LPN program at the college."

Call the NPC Adult Education Center at 501-760-4335 or email Ritter at [email protected] for more information.

  photo  National Park College Adult Education Center Director Bill Ritter and NPC CNA program head instructor Priscilla Anderson-Gullion are shown Monday inside the NPC Adult Ed Hammond Drive location as mannequins and other equipment are set up. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record