The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Hamilton County Schools (HCS) and Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation have united to create a state-accredited Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program to support current and future demand for frontline health care workers.

The CNA Academy will be administered by the UTC Center for Professional Education (CPE) and housed at The Howard School in Chattanooga. All participants in the program will complete clinical rotations at Siskin Hospital as part of the certification process.

“Community partnerships, such as this with UTC and Siskin Hospital are opening doors for successful futures for teens in our Future Ready Institutes,” Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson said. “Applications are open now for enrollment next year in the Future Ready Institutes in our high schools, and I encourage eighth-graders and their parents to explore options available to them that could lead to an exciting high school experience and career after graduation.”

Two separate programs have been developed, one for high school students and another for community members seeking to become certified health care professionals. During the 123-hour course, participants will be taught CNA fundamental skills through classroom lectures, simulated labs and clinical training.

“The pandemic has brought the labor force needs of certified nursing assistants to the forefront of our attention,” said Jerold Hale, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UTC. “This critical program fits in well with the University’s mission of establishing collaborative partnerships to assist the needs of our larger metropolitan area.

“The Center for Professional Education is one of the most important outreach and community service agents that we have at UTC, and partnering with Hamilton County Schools and Siskin Hospital for this healthcare initiative is vital. This unique collaboration creates career pathways for individuals and strengthens our medical community.”

Programming explicitly created for students at The Howard School kicks off in January. The 15-week course is only open to Howard High seniors currently enrolled in the medical therapeutics program via The Erlanger Institute of Healthcare and Innovation. Students will also do clinical experiences at Siskin Hospital and Erlanger Health System, working in an actual patient-based setting and interacting with nurses, physicians and staff.

“This powerful collaboration amongst The Howard School, UTC and Siskin exemplifies the true meaning of providing authentic experiences that will certainly change the trajectory for our amazing scholars,” The Howard School Executive Principal Le Andrea Ware said.

Several community-based cohorts of five-week, open enrollment programs have been scheduled, starting Feb. 1. The community-based program is geared toward recent high school graduates, career changers, individuals preparing for licensed practical nurse or registered nurse degrees and patient care technicians. Ensuing cohorts will begin on March 1 and May 3.

The first three weeks of each cohort offers classroom training 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at The Howard School. The final two weeks’ sessions are 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday at Siskin Hospital, allowing prospective CNA candidates to be present during shift changes.

“Siskin Hospital is honored to partner with UTC and Hamilton County Schools on the development of this innovative program aimed at addressing a real need in our industry,” said Dr. Matthew Gibson, Siskin Hospital’s president and CEO. “CNA professionals are vital to our patients’ recovery. While it’s a demanding job, CNAs provide comfort and clinical support, developing bonds with our patients who stay in our care from 10 days to a few months.”

A CNA provides varying levels of care and support to physically and/or mentally disabled people who cannot care for themselves. CNAs work with patients of all ages in hospitals, inpatient mental health facilities and clinics. Some CNAs are employed by a patient’s family and make in-home visits, where they physically care for the patient and provide companionship. Many CNAs are employed at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the demand for CNAs is growing faster than for workers in nearly every other job—with an expected increase by 9% through 2028.

The $1,500 tuition cost includes all program materials and textbooks, one set of navy blue scrubs, fees for the state of Tennessee CNA knowledge and skills licensure exams, and CPR certification. Financial aid through UTC and through Siskin Hospital’s tuition reimbursement program is available for those who qualify.

For more information, visit the UTC Certified Nursing Assistant website or call the Center for Professional Education at 423-425-4344.


Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Chuck Wasserstrom is an executive staff writer in the UTC Office of Communications and Marketing.

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