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A new approach to CNA recruitment, retention

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer

In July of 2015, the Wyoming Department of Health issued a statement that said the shortage of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in Wyoming is reaching crisis stage—a reality that we’re seeing at Campbell County Health (CCH), especially at Pioneer Manor long-term care facility.

In December 2015, there were 17 open CNA positions at the Manor, and were filled with traveling CNAs. Due to the need of CNAs and the expense of using travelers, Jonni Belden, Pioneer Manor Administrator, set out to find a solution with a team of CCH staff from Human Resources, Professional Development and Nursing Administration—Carole Aberle, John Fitch, Tiffany Fager, Chelsey Petersen, Anne Raga, Veronica Taylor and Natalie Tucker. They may have succeeded.

Taking some cues from other hard-to recruit positions, which pay a recruitment bonus in exchange for an employment commitment, the organization increased pay for CNA’s and the team redesigned Pioneer Manor’s Sunshiner role into a Care Assistant position that will help the organization recruit and retain CNAs.

The program looks like this: Job seekers who may be interested in being CNAs, but might not have the license yet, could apply for the Care Assistant position at Pioneer Manor, or other areas in the organization. If successfully hired, CCH would help the candidate pay for their education to become a CNA.

“Often, CNAs are the beginning step into a career in nursing,” says Jonni. “The marvelous aspect of nursing, regardless of licensure, is the ability to provide a lifetime of care with dedication, skill and compassion. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with individuals who wish to enter health care.”

According to Jonni, candidates working as Care Assistants will be expected to manage job duties that will help lighten the load for current CNAs. These could be:

  • helping to keep resident’s rooms clean and organized,
  • helping transport residents to and from meals and activities, or accompanying them to appointments,
  • supporting nursing staff with stocking necessary supplies and
  • helping Nutrition Services staff with getting residents their meals, among others.

Jonni also said that Care Assistants would be expected to attend the next available CNA course and will have two chances to pass the test for the CNA license. Should they not be able to pass the class, or decide they were not interested in becoming a CNA, they would not be able to continue in the care assistance program, which is defined in the contract for the CNA training assistance. The candidate would also be required to reimburse the cost of training to the organization. Candidates who succeed, and pass their CNA exam would also be expected to stay a year as a CNA in the department where they applied for the Care Assistance position.

CCH knows that professional development assistance often opens new doors for our employees. Jonni mentioned that many CNAs at long-term care have taken advantage of training to become medication aides, licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN) and Advance Practice Nurses (APRN). The Professional Development department also worked hard to identify additional times when CNA classes could be held to get candidates trained for their new career. In 2016, the department is scheduled to hold five CNA classes, and is in discussions to potentially hold more.

Community Relations team members are also planning on highlighting long-time CNAs throughout the organization in a new advertising campaign to help get the word out about the importance of the job, and how rewarding it can be for the right candidates. These individuals will be seen in print and theater ads, brochures highlighting the course, in blogs and on the organizations social media channels with the hope that their stories might inspire others to learn more about the career.

Job seekers will be able to apply for the Care Assistant position at starting in January. For more information on the program, please contact CCH’s Professional Development Department at 307.688.6040.

What is a CNA?
CCH thought we'd invite you to learn more about this crucial position by highlighting some of the people who work as a CNA every day here at CCH. Check out their stories. Learn more about becoming a CNA at


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  • Category: CCH News, Nursing