The COVID-19 pandemic presented a glaring shortage of certified nursing assistants, said Dr. Deb Carlson, president and CEO of Nebraska Methodist College.”Throughout the entire Omaha area, we’re short about 200 CNAs,” said Carlson. “Then you have a population looking for work. This is an opportunity for that combination to come together.”Back in December, Nebraska Methodist College called on 100 applicants to be a part of a free CNA program.”Right when I heard about it, I knew I had to sign up,” said student, Yoselin Cruz. “Like, I knew it was for me.”Carlson said, after the college received an overwhelming response, close to 200 aspiring health care workers were accepted into the program. “It’s a barrier for a lot of people to come up with that $500 especially when you’re unemployed or you’re underemployed,” said Carlson. “So, being able to offer that program for free is a great opportunity not only for the students but for the community.”Because the CNA Hybrid Program offers mostly online courses, the school was able to bypass most COVID-19 challenges. And student Breanne Bedinger said she was finally able to get into health care. “I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, so the fact that they made this free made a huge difference in me being able to come in, apply and go through the course,” said Bedinger. Now, Bedinger is wrapping up her final days in the program. “This program is going to change my life immensely,” Bedinger said. Now Nebraska Methodist College is working closely with Methodist Hospital Foundation to expand the free program to more applicants, leading to more jobs and better access to health care throughout the “Heartland”. Registered Nurse Joey Gardner designed the CNA Hybrid Program a few years ago. She said CNAs are vital in patient care. “I always tell my students, ‘You are the eyes and ears of the health care team. You spend most of your time with patients than doctors, nurses. So you’re going to see and hear things from patients that the nurses or doctors might not see or here,'” Gardner said.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a glaring shortage of certified nursing assistants, said Dr. Deb Carlson, president and CEO of Nebraska Methodist College.

“Throughout the entire Omaha area, we’re short about 200 CNAs,” said Carlson. “Then you have a population looking for work. This is an opportunity for that combination to come together.”

Back in December, Nebraska Methodist College called on 100 applicants to be a part of a free CNA program.

“Right when I heard about it, I knew I had to sign up,” said student, Yoselin Cruz. “Like, I knew it was for me.”

Carlson said, after the college received an overwhelming response, close to 200 aspiring health care workers were accepted into the program.

“It’s a barrier for a lot of people to come up with that $500 especially when you’re unemployed or you’re underemployed,” said Carlson. “So, being able to offer that program for free is a great opportunity not only for the students but for the community.”

Because the CNA Hybrid Program offers mostly online courses, the school was able to bypass most COVID-19 challenges. And student Breanne Bedinger said she was finally able to get into health care.

“I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, so the fact that they made this free made a huge difference in me being able to come in, apply and go through the course,” said Bedinger.

Now, Bedinger is wrapping up her final days in the program.

“This program is going to change my life immensely,” Bedinger said.

Now Nebraska Methodist College is working closely with Methodist Hospital Foundation to expand the free program to more applicants, leading to more jobs and better access to health care throughout the “Heartland”.

Registered Nurse Joey Gardner designed the CNA Hybrid Program a few years ago. She said CNAs are vital in patient care.

“I always tell my students, ‘You are the eyes and ears of the health care team. You spend most of your time with patients than doctors, nurses. So you’re going to see and hear things from patients that the nurses or doctors might not see or here,'” Gardner said.