Growing Our Own: CNA Certification Course

New CNAs

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Most (if not all) people in the healthcare profession know that staffing is an issue right now. Even prior to COVID-19, staffing was a top concern for many healthcare providers throughout the country. When you provide skilled care for a group of people, consistent and skilled staffing is essential. But needing staff is not the same as having staff.

At Mission Health, we took a hard look at the certified nursing assistant (CNA) shortage and decided to invest time, money, and resources into something that would not only help us ensure that our residents and patients are well cared for by outstanding employees, but would also enable us to grow our own within the Mission culture. With the help of many knowledgeable individuals (who were also up for a challenge) we started a CNA certification course to train brand new CNAs. The Mission Experience is built around our CARES values of Character, Attitude, Respect, Excellence, and Service, and by offering CNA certification to our existing employees and interested new employees, we have been able to develop more consistency in the workplace and have started to see the benefits of lowered agency costs. We have also been privileged to help launch the careers of many individuals through this program that enables participants to work and be paid while they learn.

To give us an inside look at how the Mission Health CNA Course is making a difference at one of our Kansas communities, we talked to administrator Roy Walker. Roy embraced the CNA certification program early on and has some thoughts he’d like to share.

Edwardsville Care Center is a Mission Health community that cares for individuals with a mental health diagnosis. The community stays full or nearly full at all times, which means that consistent staffing is always top of mind. Edwardsville has added eleven certified nursing assistants to their team through the course, and they have two more students lined up for the next cohort at a Mission Health sister community nearby. Because Mission Health has multiple locations throughout Kansas, interested participants are able to complete earn their CNA certification at convenient locations, all while getting paid while they do so!

According to Roy, the CNA certification program has “completely eliminated CNA agency usage,” which means Edwardsville Care Center residents receive more consistent care, while the community is able to operate more cost effectively. Always looking to the future, Roy say the next task is continuing to attract and grow more of our own nurses.

One of the most impressive aspects of the program is the retention rate of CNAs who have joined the team. In any high turnover profession, retention is a top concern. Roy was proud to tell us that of the eleven individuals who have completed the CNA course, all eleven remain with Edwardsville! A couple opted to work as PRN employees or work consistently on the weekend, resulting in a 100% retention rate, with full-time retention at 73%. Truly amazing and a testament not only to Roy and the course instructors, but also to the employees who have chosen to pursue their healthcare careers with Mission Health.

When asked how his experience has been so far with the quality of care provided by CNAs who went through the program, Roy couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. “They come out with their eyes open and excited to help the residents. They also take the initiative to bring up opportunities for improvement within the building, and above else they have great attitudes. They are kind, respectful, and willing to do whatever is required to continuously improve quality of care.”

One exciting aspect of the way Mission Health operates the CNA certification course, is that we encourage current employees who are interested in becoming CNAs to complete the program with us. There is a lot of value in growing our own and supporting the career goals of current employees, not just new employees! And a benefit of a dietary services team member, or an employee from activities, or whomever they may be, becoming a CNA with us is that the transition is far easier. “The learning curve is simply adjusting and adopting their new responsibilities which takes a much shorter time than an outside hire,” says Roy.

We asked Roy what he considers the best part about the certification courses, and while he had a lot to say, one piece stood out. His experience has really highlighted the “increased synergy” that comes with having new CNAs who previously worked in other departments at Edwardsville. “They know how to best work with their previous department and things flow really well. Above everything else, I am able to watch first-hand the staff culture change. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the CNA class,” says Roy.

For anyone who may be considering becoming a CNA through the Mission Health certification course, here’s what Roy has to say about that decision!

“You’re going to be in high demand, and every day you come to work is going to matter. It’s going to matter to you, your family, your community, your team at said community, and especially the residents you assist with each press of the call light. You will be proud of your hard work, and know that this work is meaningful and purposeful.”

Mission Health is continuing to run frequent classes, each approximately four weeks long, which culminate in taking the state test to become a certified nursing assistant. Our program is unique in that the community at which you wish to work at (if you are not already an employee there) hires you prior to the course, so that you are able to work and be paid while you learn. There are no costs associated with this program for the students, which means that if this is something you’ve considered but been unsure of how to make a career change work in your schedule or budget…look no further!

There will be another round of classes at Kansas locations starting October 25th and running through November 22nd, and anyone interested can contact Glenda Crellin for more information at or Tonya Minnick at to get started and learn about our various locations.

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