New Program Trains Students to Become Nursing Assistants

Published April 2023

Two Rivers students are helping fill a workforce gap

Through the Expansion of Rigorous Course Opportunities and Support Grant, Two Rivers High School now offers a Certified Nursing Assistant Program right at the high school. Students can become fully certified as entry-level nursing assistants in just one semester at no cost.

The program is made possible through our partnership with Inver Hills Community College. Registered Nurse and Inver Hills Instructor LaDonna White visits our students weekly to teach the course. The program features a project-based learning curriculum that allows students to gain a broad understanding of patient care and nursing and prepare them for a meaningful career in acute care, long-term care, or home healthcare setting. The course is concurrently enrolled with Inver Hills Community College, and students who complete the course will be eligible for five college credits.

"I have sought to be an inspiration and a role model for those who thought they couldn’t achieve. My job was to let them know that if they had the desire, I was there to help them make their achievement possible."
— LaDonna White

This work not only breaks down financial barriers to postsecondary education—connecting more students with the skills they need to start a career—but also bolsters our workforce pipeline and supports the state’s healthcare industry. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nursing assistants are the sixth-highest in-demand job in the state. The pandemic has only exacerbated this need. The current number of students pursuing a certified nursing assistant credential is not expected to meet the demand.

“By the time students enrolled in this program walk out of this high school, they can have a job with a starting pay of $18-$20 per hour,” Ben Geiger, College and Career Specialist, says. This program is also good for the community because it fills a workforce gap.”

This year, 17 students are enrolled. They do coursework at the high school, then take the certification exam at Inver Hills. Once they pass the certification, they can enter the workforce.