Sholom celebrates in-house CNA training program graduates

The first class of Sholom's CNA training program graduated in August. Ten of the graduates were hired by Sholom. (Photo courtesy of Sholom)

Now that the first class of Sholom's Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Home Health Aide program has graduated, Jim McDonald says, "Mission accomplished."

But McDonald, customer service educator and campus director of volunteer services at the Shaller Family Sholom East Campus, is quick to add, "There are more missions ahead."

With a forecast of a severe shortage of nursing assistants in the state by 2015, Sholom decided to be pro-active. Sholom successfully went through the daunting application process for licensing by the state and launched an in-house training program in June.

That 12-member class graduated in August and 10 graduates were hired by Sholom. A second class began in mid-October.

The Sholom training program includes 105 hours of CNA clinical skills training (25 hours more than the standard 80 required hours provided by local community college programs) and another 55 hours of customer service training.

"I had been saying for a long time that we should do this," McDonald, who has worked for Sholom for 30 years, told the AJW. "[Sholom CEO] Michael [Hanson] pushed ahead with it. We're real excited about the program."

For McDonald, the key to the training program is the customer service training.

"Fifty-five hours of (customer service) training is unheard-of," said McDonald. "The colleges that offer CNA programs give just the basics (in customer service). That's what makes us a step ahead."

McDonald said program applicants are screened for technical skills and customer service aptitude. The applicants with the most potential to succeed in both are selected.

McDonald said Tonia Tyler is a good example of the program's success. Tyler was hired by Sholom after graduating in the first class.

"Being selected for the program, out of 200 applicants, made me feel really good," Tyler told the AJW. "After completing the program, I was hoping to be hired (by Sholom). It was really icing on the cake."

Tyler had heard about the program from a counselor at the Employment Action Center in St. Paul.

"I have a medical background and I have a passion and love for it," said Tyler. "It's a privilege to give back to the residents after all they've done. I believe in treating people the way I wish to be treated. I love where I'm at. It's been awesome."

McDonald added, "We want to give loving, supportive customer service. Our nursing assistants play a big role in that. The people selected for the program have been shining examples of that."

The training program is being held at the Shaller Family Sholom East Campus. McDonald said a training program will eventually be added to the Ackerberg Family Sholom West Campus.

The East Campus has a clinical classroom and an education room. United Hospital donated four hospital beds to be used for the training program.

"They're top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art," said McDonald. "United is very supportive of the program."

The response to the program on the East Campus has been positive.

"Paul, one of our volunteers, does (regular) resident/patient satisfaction surveys," said McDonald, "They've gotten better and better. Everyone's happy. We're very pleased."

McDonald said Sholom's program will be an "industry leader."