Nursing aides looking to get certified and employed might have a little extra help by the end of this week.
Total Action for Progress, also known as TAP, and Medical Facilities of America are partnering up to lower the turnaround time from the classroom to real world for future health care workers.
The partnership means TAP will provide on-site testing for its nursing aide students so they can get certified. In the past, they've had to wait weeks and travel far distances to take the final test but that is all about to change.
Students in TAP's Certified Nursing Assistant Program spend all of their time in one classroom.
"They do a lot of hands on and then we go into clinicals for a week,” said Andrea Bingham. “That's when you actually work into a nursing home."
Bingham graduated from the program not too long ago and is already working as a nursing assistant at Spring Tree Health and Rehab in Roanoke, even though she is not certified.
She's hoping that will all change when she gets back into the classroom on Saturday.
"I won't be so nervous,” she said when asked how it will feel taking her final exam in the classroom.
The first group of graduates will get the chance to take the state certification test here in Roanoke beginning Saturday.
It's a much different scenario than what they’ve had to deal with in the past.
"We'd have to find the test site, then we have to wait for a test date and that can take a couple months,” said Bingham.
Some have traveled as far as North Carolina and Lynchburg to take the test, according to TAP Director Annette Lewis.
Students only have 120 days to get certified or they risk losing any employment they currently have. Lewis said the new on-site testing will make a big difference.
"They are able to retain more on what they gain in the classroom and they are able to get to work quicker,” she said.
Bingham couldn't agree more. She said she's looking forward to getting her certification in the same place she learned all her skills.
"This field of work, it is hard,” said Bingham. “It’s something you're not doing only for yourself, but you're also taking care of others and when you're taking care of others you are being a better person than you can ever be."
The first test is scheduled for Saturday.
After that, TAP plans on administering it every seven to eight weeks.
TAP hopes to become a regional hub for certification testing for all nursing assistant students, not just their own, but admits that could take time before they get to that point.