DeKalb County and Atlanta Regional Workforce Areas Building a Bridge Program

Through the collaborative efforts of various state and private entities, a career ladder has been established to provide a bridge from the entry level Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) position to the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) position. The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL), DeKalb Workforce Board, DeKalb Workforce Development Department, Atlanta Regional Workforce Board (ARWB), Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Department of Community Health (DCH), Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE), DeKalb Technical College, and Ethica Health and Retirement Communities developed a collaborative partnership to customize this career ladder. A collaborative comprised of health related agencies, including the licensing boards, Nursing Home Associations, and Acute Care Facilities, assisted DTAE in developing a tiered CNA professional hierarchy, ranging from CNA I to CNA IV. Job descriptions with increasing levels of responsibility and salary were established. Advancement into the higher levels requires completion of curriculum developed for use in Georgia’s technical colleges. The curriculum establishes four tiers for CNA advancement that correspond to the CNA job tiers. The CNA may exit the program at the completion of any level, and receive a certificate. The curriculum was designed to provide a true bridge to the LPN program. The three training components provide care-related education, academic preparedness, and program-ready LPN training. Completion of level IV provides entry into the LPN program with only eleven additional classes required for completion of the program. It is anticipated that 20% of CNAs that enter the program will progress to the LPN level in approximately three years. The curriculum includes distance learning as well as instructor based education. Nurse educators at Ethica were hired and trained as adjunct faculty at DeKalb Tech. Utilizing current staff and upgrading their responsibilities was viewed as an additional career ladder. Basic skills training began in October 2003 for 30 currently employed CNAs at two Ethica Health and Retirement Communities Nursing Homes, Traditions Health and Rehabilitation Center, and the Seasons. Career advisors play an important role in the Building a Bridge program, including spending one day bi-weekly on site. They assess basic skills, aptitudes, and abilities, assist with basic skills remediation and GED preparation, coordinate test preparation to meet technical college requirements, provide career advisement, and arrange transportation, child care, lab fees, uniforms, and other needed support services. An anticipated outcome of the project is to provide a model of coordination between various state and private entities to emulate throughout the state. For additional information, please contact:
DeKalb Workforce Area
Atlanta Regional Workforce Area
404-463-3327, or 1-800-516-5872

February 7, 20055