Hundreds take state-paid nursing assistant training

Published 9:50 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of Minnesotans are taking advantage of the state’s offer to cover the cost of training to become a certified nursing assistant.

The state has used $3.5 million in federal relief funding to pay for students’ tuition, textbooks and certification exams in hopes of alleviating staffing shortages in long-term care facilities and veterans’ homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 500 Minnesotans have enrolled in state training programs offered through the Minnesota State college system and HeartCert, a private provider, the Star Tribune reported.

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“We’re on our way toward meeting and even exceeding our goal of 1,000 new nursing assistants,” Minnesota Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson said during a news conference Wednesday. “That’s not to say the work is done … If every one of these students obtains a certification and employment, we still have a need for 14,000 additional nursing assistants in the state.”

Another private training provider, OnTrack, will soon be able to train up to 100 more people, Olson said. Additionally, there are 319 Minnesota high school students registered for a certified nursing assistant course taught in their schools, Olson said. About 130 could be certified by March.

Nursing assistants are the sixth highest in-demand job in Minnesota and earn a median wage of about $37,300 per year, according to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.