CNA Career Ladder Program

The general consensus from the uninitiated is that a completely free CNA training class simply doesn’t exist, as there are always hidden costs or stipulations for the trainee. With the adoption of a new Oklahoma State Department of Health (ODSH) program, in cooperation with the Tulsa Community College and Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, over $370,000 was dedicated towards the free training and certification of about 1,000 CNA trainees in 2010.

The uninitiated might be wonder exactly how much tax money the ODSH’s program is costing Oklahoma residents, but the answer is, surprisingly, not a dime. The ODSH collects a number of fees from healthcare organizations in the area that are fined for not following proper guidelines, or for having unacceptably unsatisfactory patient care. In some cases, the CNAs at these offending healthcare organizations may end up being the direct recipient of the ODSH’s new program, as the goal is training (and re-training, as the case may be) CNA staff to improve the Oklahoma state-wide patient care conditions. With the program, free CNA trainees are given the tutelage required to reach CNA Level 2 status, which offers a higher pay grade, more responsibility, and the opportunity to attend the Tulsa Community College for further training (up to a CNA Level 3) if they wish-but the further training is not currently covered by the ODSH’s program.

For a non-taxpayer funded state program, the ODSH’s free CNA training is taking the money out of those organizations that have slid in terms of patient care, and improving the conditions for the entire state to prevent such haphazard patient care from happening in the future. As a result, all current CNAs with Level 1 skills in Oklahoma will be eligible for the ODSH program to receive free CNA training. The is able to serve the program as a career ladder for current CNAs, which is very apparent from the name of the program itself: the Assistant of Certified Nursing Program of Career Ladder. With online learning components, traditional class, and clinical lab work the CNACL program gears CNA trainees to take a CNA Skills examination at the end of the course in order to rank up to a higher level.

The single caveat to the CNACL program by ODSH is that prospective program applicants must already be accepted into the Tulsa Community College in order to be eligible. An admission to TCC is not a guarantee of acceptance into the CNACL by itself, as already mentioned there is enough funding for about 1,000 CNAs in 2010. Therefore, space is limited and early applications are extremely encouraged after taking the College Placement Test and receiving at least an 80 in Reading and Sentence Skills. Applicants should also ensure that they have taken at least 12 credit hours, and maintained a 3.0 minimum GPA, in addition to having 6 months’ experience working in a healthcare facility. Finally, applicants will require a letter of recommendation from an administrator at their workplace in order to be considered.

With a course load of 30 hours, the CNACL program consists of 11 course modules of 3 hours each, for a total of 5 full days of CNA training. Various subjects that are covered during the CNACL program include the following: aging and illness, nutrition, safety, dementia care, teamwork, communication, culture change, the importance of family, spirituality, restorative care, and dying. After the course, all CNACL participants are required to pass a state-sanctioned examination for CNA certification.

Again, the space is severely limited so CNACL hopefuls are encouraged to apply as early as possible. With over 66,000 potential CNACL applicants in Oklahoma (who are in the state registry as a certified CNA), and only 1,000 spots to be filled, the CNACL is an elite program with a high degree of competition for spots.