Filling a Critical Workforce Gap

  • Share:

As a member of the CSIU’s Heathcare Advisory Committee, I was thrilled to be invited to last week’s inaugural graduation of the students in their Nurse Aide Training and Competency Program (NATCP). My connection to this committee is strategic. Your Chamber's #1 most urgent issue is finding solutions to our chronic workforce shortages.

We know that the old ways of recruiting potential and retaining current employees will not serve us well now nor into the future. What I learned is that CSIU's nurse aid training program is exactly the type of approach that we need to encourage and spread the word about far and wide.

Arriving at the beautiful Maria Joseph-Emmanuel Center Chapel for the graduation ceremony was impressive. Each of the graduates had their personal cheer teams, made up of spouses, children, parents, and co-workers. A few of the center’s residents were also there to celebrate.

The center’s administrator, Rebecca Heimbach, RN, NHA, made some brief remarks to kick off the ceremony. You could sense her relief that some much appreciated and needed reinforcements in terms of newly certified CNAs were standing just behind her. The past two-plus years have been tough on all of us, but for Ms. Heimbach the weight of the world was particularly acute.

The CSIU staff was there in force. Katherine Vastine (pictured right) is the NATCEP Program Administrator. I’m told that Katherine manages the overall program and solves every problem that might come up, even some problems that get ‘nipped’ long before anyone else knows about them. Ann Miller is the NATCEP Coordinator, and she oversees the program, provides guidance, and makes sure that each student's documentation is correct.

The NATCEP RN Instructor is Sue Wert, who teaches all the classes. Longtime Chamber member and leader, Linda Walker is the CSIU Healthcare Education Coordinator/ NATCEP RN Instructor. Linda’s role is all things healthcare and, as needed, substitute instructor. She deals with the day-to-day anomalies of the Pennsylvania Department of Education certification processes.  

After the ceremony, I interviewed Linda to learn more about this new and critically important program. I thought you might like to take a deeper dive into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of this program, so here's an abbreviated version of
our interview:

Was the entire program conducted at the Maria Joseph-Emmanuel Center?
“Yes. The Orientation was held on June 20th and class ran from June 27th to July 26th.”

Will there be additional classes at this center?
“CSIU is authorized by the PA Department of Education to run our program at Emmanuel and Valley View, in Montoursville. Additional sites may be added in the future.”
How did the students apply?
“Our students must be ‘sponsored.’ A facility, such as a nursing home or home health service or an agency such as CareerLink or CSIU may send their participants for training. Due to regulations, ‘people off the street’ cannot be accepted for this program. To do that type of admission process the program would need to be licensed as a private school.”

What are the sponsor responsibilities?
“The sponsoring facility provides the criminal background check, physical, TB test, and any other pertinent documentation. We require that all students are current with COVID vaccine standards. This is because the students will be attending classes and clinicals in long-term care facilities. The sponsoring facility completes a program application for each participant. Sponsors are also responsible for forwarding the required documentation to the program two weeks before classes start.”
Who reviews the application and accepts the student?
“Ann Miller, Program Coordinator, checks each application to make sure everything is in place prior to the orientation. Six students are the minimum enrollment, but no more than ten in a class.”
What are the classes like?
“The program is 125 hours or 19 days in length. Per PA Department of Education regulations, the student may not be absent or tardy the first 12 days of class because of the curriculum content. Students are strongly encouraged to attend all clinical days. If there is a tardy occurrence or an excused absence during a clinical, the student must make-up that time after the completion of the course. Students will not receive a formal certificate until the time that all their work is made-up.”
Any changes coming after this inaugural experience?
“Program managers are considering evening classes so students with a day-time job may attend classes and still work during the day. The classes will be shorter in length but the time to complete the total class will be longer.”
Will there be another class?
“The next class will be held at the Valley View Nursing Center in Montoursville. Orientation will be on August 1st and the program will run from August 8th to September 1st.”
Are there any other details, such as the cost that you can tell our readers?
“The tuition is $1100 per student. The CSIU sponsors students through two grants: DCW Heroes and the YES program. The CSIU LPN Center is not involved with the training program yet. However, it will become a testing site for nurse aide candidates to take their certification tests.”
A very special treat for everyone in attendance at the inaugural graduation ceremony was the choral-style reading of the poem, Only a CNA?, by the entire crew of freshly-minted Certified Nursing Assistants. Please click on this heartwarming video below. The audio quality isn't spectacular, so please feel free to read along so you don’t miss a single word.

Only a CNA?
-courtesy of Dawn Mazzola
Who are you to refer to us
As "Only" a CNA?
We're the ones who wash and dress
Our patients for the day.

We're the ones who take the time
To listen to them speak.

We listen about their lifetime
In a forty hour week.

We also give our hands to hold
When someone's feeling scared.

It's not easy being a patient;
You're never quite prepared.

We take the time to listen
By lending both our ears.

We listen to their worries
Or how they've spent their years.

Our arms were made to reach
And even wrap around.

To give our patients hugs
When they're feeling a little down.

We help our patients do the things
They used to do on their own.

Everybody needs some help,
Even when we're grown.

So who are you to refer to us
As "only" a CNA?

We do our best to meet their needs
Within our working day.

We chose to do this job;
The job did not choose us.

We sympathize and empathize;
Compassion is a must.

We try to keep them comfortable
And free of any fear.

We sit along beside them
When that time is near.

We hold their hand, stroke their hair,
Just making sure they know.

They're not alone, an aide is there.
It's okay for them to go.

To all the CNAs, keep your head held high,

We're not "only" CNAs.


Leave a Comment
* Required field
Website by MoJo Active