Nineteen students completed a graduation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital that could ultimately provide a foot in the door to a career in physical or occupational therapy. Members of that graduating class, which includes significant numbers of new immigrants, individuals from lower-income families, and minorities, each became a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). In a multi-discipline healthcare environment, however, these workers often are called to help therapy clinicians provide rehabilitation services, according to Russ Averna, vice president of human resources, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

“In the rehab setting we have tapped the skills of nurse assistants to support therapy clinicians,” Averna tells Rehab Management. “Given this exposure, both nurse assistants and rehab aides understand the role and duties of their more advanced-degreed colleagues.”

That exposure could be helpful for those who want to further pursue a career in rehabilitation work.

If they choose, graduates of the program may to move on a path to physical therapy assistant or certified occupation therapy assistants, or ultimately become full-fledged therapists, Averna notes. He adds that an aide who has completed the CNA program—which is funded by a grant from Spaulding and delivered through a local American Red Cross chapter—can leverage tuition reimbursement support and advance his or her career in stages.

Skill Set for Healthcare Employment

Initially, the skills these graduates learn will enable them to work in nursing homes and home health and hospital settings. The training includes 72.5 hours of classroom instruction and 24 hours of clinical training.

Among this demographically diverse group of workers there is often the drive, interest, and—most importantly—compassion to join the healthcare field, according to a statement made by Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Chief Nursing Officer, Adrienne Sarnecki, in a recent media release.

The skills the program’s participants learn through its curriculum enable many of the those individuals to pursue a career they never imagined possible, according to Sarnecki. “They just need someone to show them the path,” she says.

The statewide Certified Nurse Assistant training course combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience in healthcare settings.The aim of the training is to foster workforce development and education programs in healthcare. Upon completing the program, students are eligible to apply for the state examination to become a Certified Nurse Assistant.


Gateway Position

The nurse assistant role often is the gateway to careers in nursing, Averna points out. The same can be said for the rehab aide role, explains Averna, who says those workers support patient care in conjunction with physical, occupational and speech therapists.

“It’s so vital as an employer to find individuals who represent the diverse communities we serve combined with high levels of professional skill. For us, it’s a wonderfully productive partnership to enable outstanding career opportunities for these students and grow the candidate pool we recruit from for our nursing roles,” Averna says.

Spaulding is positioned to leverage the success of the Red Cross initiative to broaden its applicability therapy as well as nursing, Averna adds. “Tapping into the talents of our applicant pool  is a very viable option with many benefits,” he concludes.

[Source: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital]