A pay raise and new credential for one of health care’s toughest jobs

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It’s one of the most physically demanding jobs in health care: helping nursing-home patients bathe, brush their teeth, get out of bed and eat meals.

But the job of a certified nurse aide traditionally offers low wages—about $25,000 a year, resulting in turnover of more than 90 percent year. It’s an entry-level position that requires only a high school diploma.

To stem the worker exodus, two Indiana institutions are teaming to offer more training, a career ladder, additional credentialing and a bump in salary.

Ivy Tech Community College and the Indiana Health Care Association/Indiana Assisted Living Association said this month they developed a new credential called the long term specialist certificate.

Getting the certificate means the worker has completed several courses and received training in dementia care, restorative care and special diet monitoring.

If a worker completes the coursework, which can be done in a few months, nursing homes that are members of the Indiana trade association will pay for the education (a cost of several hundred dollars a class) and increase wages to about $31,000.

“These individuals need a career path. If they have career path they can see, they tend to stay in a job a little bit longer,” said Mary Anne Sloane, vice president of health care at Ivy Tech.

And staying in this job could be critical. There are more than 10,000 certified nurse aide positions in Indiana, with more than 1,000 openings a year. By 2024, Indiana will need an additional 11,430 certified nurse aides, according to Indiana Workforce Development.

The credential has been approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Sloane said.

“Long-term care is obviously a growing industry as our population ages,” she said. “We want to help make sure Indiana has enough people for these jobs.”

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