New VUJ program offers experience in health care

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — A new health care program at Vincennes University Jasper aims to fill a local need for health care professionals while helping students find their place in the field.

Last week, VUJ announced its new Health Care Professional Pre-Nursing Certified Nursing Assistant Track Certificate. The program launches this fall and offers students interested in nursing the opportunity to complete general education courses prior to enrolling in a nursing program. At the end of the program, students will also have a CNA license that will allow them to work in health care settings to gain experience in the field while pursuing a nursing degree.

“That’s what I’m most excited about,” said Cassie Flock, chair of the nursing department at VUJ. “It’s going to help the students find their place in health care.”

Flock was a CNA herself for four years while pursuing her registered nurse license.

The program will also help fill a need for CNAs in local skilled care facilities and hospitals. In health care facilities, CNAs assist patients with daily activities such as bathing and getting dressed.

“It’s hard work, but it’s so important,” Flock said.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CNA profession is projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028 as the baby boomer generation ages and enters skilled care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Flock said the local health care industry is already seeing a need for more CNAs, so VUJ is looking for ways to help meet the need.

The university already offered a CNA program in the continuing education department, Flock said, but students there pay out of pocket for the program. With the new program, students will be able to apply their financial aid packages to the program.

The program will also give students who want to pursue a nursing degree a leg up. While students who complete the program will still need to apply to VUJ’s nursing program after completing the CNA certificate, Flock said it will likely boost their applications. It’s also a good fit for students who want to pursue nursing, but can’t manage the heavy course load enrolling in a nursing program at the start of college entails.

Generally, Flock said, nursing students take 15 to 18 credit hours per semester because they’re taking general education classes alongside their health care classes. Students in the CNA certificate program will take 12 to 15 credit hours because the program includes fewer health care courses. The lighter course load is ideal for many of VUJs students, Flock said, because many work full time while taking classes.

The courses in the program will transfer should students enroll in VUJ’s nursing program or a nursing program at another university.

The program has already proven popular. This fall, 25 students will take part in the program’s inaugural year.

For more information or to apply to the program, visit vinu.edu, select the Jasper Campus page and click “apply now.” Prospective students can also email vujcadmissions@vinu.edu for more information. Applications for the fall semester are still being accepted.




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