Demand for nursing assistant and medication aide training is on the rise at Mid-Plains Community College.
New reports show that 189 students were enrolled in MPCC’s Nursing Assistant program in 2015. This year, that figure jumped to 262. The medication aide program also saw an increase – from 70 students in 2015 to 80 this year.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that more nursing and health occupation programs are now requiring their students to take a nursing assistant course,” said Brett Niemeth, nursing support coordinator for MPCC. “Last year, we had several students from Bryan College of Health Sciences in Lincoln taking nurse aide classes through us. They were pursuing speech therapy and interventional radiology.”
Nursing assistants, or nurse aides, provide basic care for patients in a variety of settings including hospitals, residential/long-term care facilities and in-home care. Often, they are also responsible for lifting, moving and transporting patients.
With additional training, nursing assistants can become medication aides, allowing them to dispense medications to patients while under the direction and oversight of a licensed health care professional.
MPCC offered a total of 38 nurse aide and medication aide classes this year. Another 30 people used the college to regain certification in those areas after their credentials lapsed.
“We have eight more scheduled to retest this month,” said Niemeth. “The jobs are definitely there. All the nursing homes in our service area are short-staffed. We’ve also seen an increased demand for in-home care. I’ve had several calls from people looking for referrals because they either don’t want to put their loved ones in a nursing home, or insurance won’t pay for it.”
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services recently surveyed MPCC’s nursing assistant program, something it does every two years to make sure programs remain in compliance with state and federal requirements.
MPCC’s program received a clean review with no recommendations.
“It’s an awesome feeling to get those results, and it’s something to really be proud of,” said Niemeth. “It also confirms what we already knew – that our nursing assistant program is growing, thriving and exceeding expectations. A lot of credit has to go to the 13 adjunct instructors who helped make that success possible. It takes a team effort.”
MPCC offers nurse aide and medication aide classes in seven locations within its 18-county service area: McCook, North Platte, Imperial, Ogallala, Broken Bow, Valentine and Mullen. More information about the programs is available online at mpcc.edu.