by Crystal Beshear
Oklahoma State University Ė Oklahoma City is branching out to make their certified nurse aide training program available statewide.
In conjunction with the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, OSU-OKC has expanded the free program to include all 77 counties within the state, according to Tony Lippe, OSU-OKCís CNA Marketing Coordinator/Adjunct Professor.
"When the program initially started two years ago, it was available in only one county," said Lippe. "From there we expanded it to four counties, and then in January of this year, we were able to expand it to include the entire state of Oklahoma thanks to the great legislation that was passed."
The successful program allows prospective CNA students the opportunity to earn their certification at no cost with the stipulation that they work 12 months at a Medicaid long-term care facility following their graduation. In addition to free tuition and textbooks, the CNA graduate also receives free scrubs, a stethoscope, and their competency exam is paid for as well.
The curriculum provided in the CNA program consists of 56 hours of classroom training and 24 hours of supervised clinical training. According to Lippe, clinicals have been made more convenient for students as well.
"We have five or six long term care facilities that we use for clinicals," Lippe said. "They are set up in various parts of the city to provide convenient access for our students depending upon where they live.
"We are also opening branch locations of OSU-OKC inside long term facilities that are hosting the free program. For example, our first class in Collinsville just ended and another will begin in May. Other CAN classes in the program will begin in May and June at Weatherford and Altus facilities."
To qualify for the certified nurse aide training program, prospective students must reside in Oklahoma, be at least 18 years of age, pass an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation background check and a nurse aid registry screening, and have a negative TB test. Once a person is qualified, he or she must acquire a 70 or better score on a compass reading exam to be admitted into the program.
Two options are also available for students in the program regarding full time and part time enrollment. According to Lippe, students may either be enrolled in the full time program, which lasts two weeks and takes place during the day, or in the part time program, which lasts over a period of four weeks and is held in the evening.
"Every two weeks a new full time program begins and every four weeks a part time program begins," Lippe said. "This is just another convenience for interested applicants. An additional convenience is the fact that once a person completes the curriculum, they are able to take their state certifications on campus, too."
Lippe did note that once July rolls around the curriculum hours would increase from 80 to 96 in order to be more competitive with other states.
"Most states require 120 hours of training for CNA certification which makes it difficult if someone decides to move out of state because they have to start all over," said Lippe. "We are not increasing to 120 hours yet, however we felt that we wanted to not only improve our students but take the initiative to teach them 16 hours of additional theory relating to behavior and abuse since it is something they need to know."
For those who want to take the CNA class, but do not want to commit themselves for 12 months to a facility, Lippe said that those individuals could simply pay for the program and not be obligated.
However, the majority of individuals enrolling in a CNA class take advantage of the program offered at OSU-OKC and use it to provide much needed service at a long term care facility, according to Lippe. For more information or class registration, call toll free 800-560-4099, in the OKC metro area call 405-945-8615, or visit OSU-OKCís website at www.osuokc.edu/cna.