by Bobby Anderson, RN and staff writer

Creating a direct pipeline to get quality healthcare workers has never been more important than it is today.
The last few years have forced the healthcare industry to compete with other industries for a competent workforce more than ever.
Recently, Metro Technology Centers and Integris Health Southwest Medical Center announced a partnership to provide free on-site certified nursing assistant (CNA) training for existing Integris Health employees. (story continues below)

Community Hospital – Great opportunity to work with us!

Partnerships like these just make sense according to Integris Southwest Chief Nursing Officer Jackie Lockett, RN.
“I think it’s critical. We all know the nursing shortage is not only in Oklahoma but throughout the nation. We have to be proactive to get in front of it,” Lockett said. “Every market is struggling to get people in. We have to do what we can to market (nursing) and show it as an amazing career opportunity.”
“That’s really what this starts. It’s the beginning of their career and we want to help promote them to get them to where they want to be in the long-term. We cannot be pro-active enough.”
Sandy Hill MSN, RN, NPD serves as the system’s Transition to Practice manager.
Investing in an internal pipeline for employees who believe in the Integris model and mission creates better outcomes and better careers.
“Integris has identified a need for not only nurses but support for nurses in all different kinds of roles,” Hill said. “We wanted to support people who are interested in healthcare with the means to get their certified nursing assistant training and certification.”
The offer includes full-time employment for one-year, paid class tuition, fees, and books, as well as a paid salary for training hours and a $1,000 retention bonus. The 18-day course will be taught by Metro Tech Adjunct Instructor, Casey Batson, who says she is excited to be a part of this unique opportunity.
“Years ago, hospitals might have promised current employees or new hires to pay for CNA training, but few would actually follow through on that promise,” Batson said. “Integris Health is not just paying for CNA training, they’re investing in these students, and in return, will have more CNAs and higher retention.”
Seven students began the first round of the training on Monday, Sept. 26 and an open house was held in the classroom located on the INTEGRIS Health Southwest Medical Center campus.
The role of a CNA is to work alongside a licensed nurse to enhance the care provided. CNAs take vital signs, assist patients with their activities of daily living such as bathing, oral hygiene, using the restroom, ambulation, turning, transferring from bed to chair, feeding, and more. The CNA also informs and escalates concerns to the nursing staff to ensure the quality of care.
“I love that it is here in-house,” Lockett said. “It really gets them indoctrinated into our culture, what we do and why we do it. We want to grow this and for it to get bigger and bigger. If it continues to grow it will grow our pipeline of nursing caregivers as time goes on.”
To complete training and earn certification, Integris Health employees will follow the same guidelines, requirements, and curriculum traditionally taught by Metro Tech and regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“It really kind of creates the first stepping stone in a career pathway,” Hill said. “For someone who has little or no healthcare exposure, it’s a good place to start. Once they are out and working with the patients they will be meeting all kinds of interdisciplinary teammates. If they choose to go to nursing we have a pathway for that. If they chose respiratory, we have a pathway for that. Physical, therapy, radiology – whatever their future plans are – we support them along that pathway.”
Chief Hospital Executive at INTEGRIS Health Southwest Medical Center, John Adams attests to the fact that CNAs are an essential part of a health care team and this is only the beginning for the partnership with Metro Tech.
“The decision to physically place a training program on our campus was multifaceted,” Adams said. “It extends the reach of Metro Tech’s training resources into South Oklahoma City. In the coming months, our goal is to open up the program to include local high school students to be able to graduate with their CNA. Having the class on a hospital campus allows for students to be exposed to the hospital, the culture and establish relationships that can lead to a long career with INTEGRIS Health.”
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