In November, Governor Walz activated 400 members of the Minnesota National Guard to train as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and deploy them as staff in long-term care facilities to aid in the severe staffing shortage we are facing across the state. Following a conference with all Minnesota State community and technical colleges, Pine Technical & Community College (PTCC) was selected for placement in training 18 Guard members in an accelerated learning format. The class met daily and put in 75 hours-worth of training to prepare them for the field (59 hours of classroom/lab and 16 hours of clinicals). PTCC was one of 16 colleges selected to serve these students. The students learned both on-campus, in the clinical setting and at Milaca High School, a PTCC satellite training site.
To address the severe workforce shortage of CNAs amid COVID vaccine mandates and requirements, these trained service members will be deployed to skilled nursing facilities that are facing shortcomings in staff. At the request of the Minnesota Department of Health, selected facilities will receive a National Guard response team to increase staff capacity for up to three weeks at a time.
By coordination of PTCC’s Continuing Education and Customized Training division, this program was set up successfully in a very short period of time. PTCC signed on November 22, and by December 6, the first round of guard members were trained to deploy to the field. The course was taught by instructors Carleen Kendall, Stephanie Youngberg and Cheri Carlsen. The instructors stated that “the students showed up to class early, were respectful and polite, and took the training very seriously.” Since the instructors all work in the field, they strongly supported this initiative and understood the need.
From the office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan: “Our long-term care facilities are facing an all-hands-on-deck moment, and that’s why we are taking unprecedented action to support skilled nursing workers, residents, and patients,” said Governor Walz. “Financial support will help our skilled nursing facilities hire and retain talented staff to care for patients, and the Minnesota National
Guard is preparing to fill any staffing gaps. I am deeply thankful to the skilled nursing personnel who work so hard to care for so many Minnesotans every day. I pledge to do whatever it takes to help Minnesota’s long-term care community get through this challenging time.”
“PTCC was honored that we could work together with the National Guard to make sure they were trained properly for nursing assistant care in our long-term care facilities. We were grateful we could provide the training in the accelerated format that was needed and requested,” stated Kathy Reid, PTCC Continuing Education and Customized Training Representative.
All 18 students completed their state certification exam on or before December 18, and they will now be able to help aid the more than 22,000 elderly and vulnerable Minnesotans who are placed in care facilities.
Photo provided by Pine Technical and Community College.