SCC Rolls Out New Certified Nursing Aid Apprenticeship Training Program


West Burlington, IA – In November, Southeastern Community College (SCC) officials inked a deal with the US Department of Labor to offer a workplace-based, registered apprenticeship training program for Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA). The program will allow area employers to provide on-the-job training to their staff using curriculum and learning standards developed by SCC.

 This is the first instance of applying an apprenticeship-style training program in a health care field in the state of Iowa says Greer Sisson, Iowa State Director for the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship.

 “People are familiar with apprenticeship programs for plumbers, electricians and carpenters. This follows that format, only it’s for nurse aids.”

Health care employers will be able to take a more engaged approach to training so that incoming staff have the skills that are specific to their industry or facility.

Currently, students enrolled in SCC’s CNA program learn a set curriculum through classroom and lab exercises as well as time spent in clinical rotation. While it is a great way to ensure that students are prepared to enter the workforce and to pass the state licensure exam, employers still need to invest time training new hires to get them up to speed so they can be effective in their individual facilities.

SCC’s Interim Dean of Career, Technical and Health Education, William Stuflick explains that this registered apprenticeship model outlines a key set of skills and required learning outcomes.

Employers can then teach those skills within the context of their particular field or facility.

“It’s not uncommon for new CNAs to get overwhelmed in a new position. They start to build confidence in their new skills and quickly realize that they have an entirely new set of skills to learn to be effective at work. That can be too much.”

This training model drastically improves employee retention. Recent statistics show that employers that follow the traditional training and hiring practice have about a 50% retention rate. Those that follow the registered apprenticeship model retain closer to 75% of their employees.

“Apprentice trainees are required to spend 300 hours in the clinical training setting. That gives employers a lot of flexibility to teach the core skills and tailor that learning to skills they need their employees to have. It’s a win-win.”

With the ability to incorporate training into the standard curriculum, employers can stretch the learning curve over a longer period. Apprentices will earn certifications as their training progresses and be able to assume increasingly responsible tasks on the job.  The tiered approach means that trainees are less stressed, they learn more, and are better prepared to step into their positions once training is completed.

Facilities that participate in the apprenticeship program will earn a Certificate of Registration from the USDOL’s Office of Apprenticeship.

Stuflick says facility certification has its own advantages.

“If I was looking to take a family member to a care facility and I saw that it trained its own employees, I’d want to know they were well-trained. Knowing that a facility follows a nationally-recognized training program would help me feel better that they’ll get the quality of care they need.”

Stuflick notes that while there are a handful of area facilities that plan to adopt this model, not every health care facility will follow suit. That is why SCC will continue to offer its current CNA program as-is.

“There are certainly some costs involved in this approach which may not work for every employer. And there will also be some students who want to study to become a CNA for whom an apprenticeship isn’t a good fit.”

Stuflick says after SCC puts the finishing touches on the program, it will begin working with employers to help put all the training pieces into place. The first employers should be able to begin the program in early 2015.

For more news or to learn about Southeastern Community College, visit: