MN hospitals desperate for nursing assistants; state turns to free education to fill positions

A massive nursing assistant shortage has Minnesota turning to free education in order to get more helping hands in hospitals.

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According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, a Certified Nursing Assistant is the sixth-most in-demand job in the state. There are also an estimated 15,000 CNA positions open statewide.

“COVID is still taking people out of the workforce and you have got to replace them with somebody. And there comes to a point where, again, you have run out of employees.” Traci Krause, who oversees the nursing program at Minneapolis College.

Gov. Tim Walz and his staff are now pushing programs that will help fill those gaps in the healthcare system. This includes providing funding to support 10 high schools in sending students to get hands-on training.

Saturday, nine students from Roosevelt High School were in their second day of labs. The juniors and seniors were practicing how to take vital signs and general bedside care of patients.

For some students, this opportunity means getting a head start on their healthcare career — at no cost.

“My grandparents were both diagnosed with diseases that could have been caught at earlier stages,” Alexia McCullough, a student, said. “Ever since then I have really had that passion to come into a field that can help people,”

McCullough said she will be able to use this certificate to get a CNA job this coming summer and that it will be a reliable position throughout her medical school training.

“It’s really nice because obviously college has gotten really expensive. So to be able to get free college in high school that will help me with my future goals is really nice,” McCullough added.

For the high school students, the program will take about ten weeks in total as they are studying mostly on the weekends. The entire course is usually taught in five weeks.

Once students pass the CNA test, job prospects are good and will bring in about $18-20 per hour to start.

Read more about the Nursing Assistant Program by clicking here.