The county partnered with Rowan College of South Jersey and Rowan University for the grant-funded training program.
In Gloucester County, New Jersey, where there are over 1,000 roles available for certified nurse aides (CNAs) alone, the county's board of commissioners has partnered with Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) and Rowan University to launch a program to train CNAs and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) at no cost.
"Through extensive conversation with our nursing home administration coming out of a post-COVIDworld, staffing shortages have had a major impact on us," Gloucester County Commissioner Jim Jefferson told HealthLeaders.
In the past, hospital systems would hire only four-year graduate BSNs, which made two-year RNs, LPNs, and CNAs readily available to work in nursing homes, he explained. Now, with hospital systems once again hiring two-year RNs, LPNs, and CNAs, all areas of healthcare are struggling to hire.
This program enables the county to develop its own talent pipeline, while also introducing residents to a career pathway in healthcare.
"CNAs are the backbone of a nursing home, and our county college, RCSJ, trains them. By engaging our county administration with our nursing home administration, workforce development, and our county college, we were able to utilize grant-funding opportunities for those who qualify."
The program is free with the promise of employment for students after satisfactory completion.
The county's hope for the program is that it will stabilize its nursing home workforce—and they're beginning to see results, according to Jefferson. With the recent graduating class, the county was able to increase nursing home capacity by 32 residents to 48.
"In a nursing facility, staffing ratios for care is everything," he said. "Lack of staff translates into lack of availability to place residents."
Jefferson predicts that they should be able to reach full capacity—60 residents—once the next cohort of students graduates.
“In a nursing facility, staffing ratios for care is everything. Lack of staff translates into lack of availability to place residents.”
Jim Jefferson, county commissioner, Gloucester County, New Jersey
Jasmyne Ray is the contributing editor for revenue cycle at HealthLeaders.