From its inception in 2000, the Roanoke Higher Education Center was designed to include every level of learning - from certificate programs to post-graduate degrees. Often, employers need workers with practical skills that require a high school diploma or GED and post-secondary training, not a college degree. Due to aging populations, that need is greatest in the medical field, where nurse’s aides do most of the hands-on work, says Jo Nelson, Director for TAP This Valley Works.
Through a combination of grants, sliding scale tuition fees and direct payments from medical providers wanting a high-quality workforce, TAP offers a seven-week course at RHEC combining classroom work with training in a hospital or nursing-home setting. Students who complete the course can work as nurse’s aides, and are state-certified after passing a licensing exam, the fee for which is included in the cost of the class.
Working as a Certified Nurse’s Aide can be stressful, Nelson says, and turnover is high. Classwork includes training in life skills, meditation and yoga to give students the support they need to stay in the field for many years.
Nelson says hospitals and nursing homes have embraced the idea that it takes a certain type of person - regardless of previous experience - to be a nurse’s aide. Successful candidates need to care about other people, to want to help them and to do so in a loving manner, Nelson says. Some students are even inspired to become registered nurses