Through a workforce development in long term care grant from New York state, The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU Upstate healthcare union and Trocaire College are collaborating on an apprenticeship program to help close skills gaps within the nursing workforce.
Currently, 10 union-certified nursing assistants (CNA) working at McGuire have enrolled in the practical nursing program at Trocaire to pursue an advanced nursing degree.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gaps funding opportunity is also supporting the collaboration. The purpose of the two-year program is to promote apprenticeships as a significant workforce solution in filling current middle- and high-skilled job vacancies and closing the skills gap between employer workforce needs and the skills of the current workforce.
“The students’ range of experience varies from one year to greater than 18 years, and all have been tremendously engaged in the program,” said Dana Mata, nurse manager for The McGuire Group. “The apprenticeship curriculum includes coursework in a wide range of topics from regulatory, quality management and leadership training to application of clinical skills taught in their nursing program. The program also includes integrating McGuire policies and process already in place and continuing with the McGuire mission of providing quality care in all of our facilities.”
In order to be eligible to participate in the apprenticeship program, the students had to have worked for at least one year at McGuire in addition to meeting academic thresholds.
As part of the collaboration, Trocaire provides the practical nursing curriculum and support services. 1199SEIU facilitates testing used for screening, tutoring and processes all the tuition payments. In addition to employment, McGuire also provides the on-the job training (OJT). The students’ school hours and OJT substitute for their work hours. The students are also working at least one shift per week at their facility.
“The students in the program had been away from school for a long time and were scared and overwhelmed. With classes going remote due to the pandemic, many also needed to learn new technologies,” said Jennifer Blickwedehl, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum and instruction and program director, general studies, Trocaire College. “With all that, in addition to the stress COVID-19 added to their workload, they are all doing amazingly well and have been a wonderful addition to the classroom.”
The students started classes spring 2020.