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Iowa Western to offer free CNA training to 100 Iowa residents

Iowa Western to offer free CNA training to 100 Iowa residents


With the nation facing a dire shortage of health care workers, Iowa Western Community College will offer free Certified Nursing Assistant training to the first 100 qualified Iowa residents who apply, the college announced Thursday.

Iowa Western’s Continuing Education Department is partnering with local hospitals and long-term care facilities to recruit students. To qualify, applicants must have a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old.

“We want to find 100 individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Rachel Jensen, director of Continuing Education. “We know there’s a huge need, and we know there’s a ton of turnover in the field — and we know there’s a ton of burnout among these workers.”

CNAs can make a difference in someone’s life “each and every day,” she said.

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Training will be offered in Atlantic, Clarinda, Harlan and at the main campus in Council Bluffs at various times, according to a press release from Iowa Western. The first classes will begin Nov. 1. Classes normally have 10 to 20 students but can accept up to 30, said Rhonda Casson, coordinator of long-term care. Applicants will attend an orientation before starting class.

Iowa Western offers a 75-hour class, as well as a hybrid class, which incorporates both in-person and online instruction, the press release stated. Once the student successfully completes the class and lab, they will then take the state certification exams, offered at Iowa Western’s Council Bluffs Campus, and then be ready to apply for CNA positions.

Iowa Western hopes the 100 free CNAs starts to address the healthcare workforce demand that has become more acute due to the COVID pandemic, the press release stated. There is a large workforce demand for CNAs. Southwest Iowa and the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area currently have 6,702 CNA positions and will experience a 1.7% growth rate in the next five years. The median pay is currently $15.33 per hour.

Casson is excited for this initiative and reached out to Jordan Tjaden at Midlands Living Center.

“I was very excited to hear about this initiative and the great opportunities it will bring to our community,” Tjaden said. “Many providers are experiencing staffing issues and, by adding 100 new CNAs to the workforce, residents, patients and staff across all healthcare sectors will benefit greatly.”

For more information or to register for orientation, please contact Amanda Oloff at or 712-256-7081.

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