NWIC adds Nursing Assistant Certification program

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) is now offering a Nursing Assistant Certification program to help students gain employment in a high-demand industry. Classes for the program began Oct. 31.

“During this economic downturn, the health professions sector still saw a significant increase in job openings, as opposed to losing jobs,” Fran Dodson, NWIC director of workforce education said.

One of the college’s main objectives, especially in recent years, has been to help students find jobs through short-term training programs.

“I was hired as the new director in July of 2010, and have been designing programs that lead people to family-supporting wages,” Dodson said.

But the program wasn’t just added to make students employable.

“There is a great need in our community for care providers, and especially for diabetic care,” Dodson said.

The program, which normally takes a quarter to complete, is the first rung in NWIC’s plan to develop a career ladder in the health professions – one that allows students to start out in fields that require less education, and then move up into positions that require more education.

NWIC’s Nursing Assistant Certification classes take place in a state-approved facility which includes all the tools students will need to learn their trade. One end of the room is set up like a classroom, and the other like a hospital. Among the tools are over-bed tables, a manikin and two hospital beds with curtains around them.

“Students are actually tested on whether they draw the curtains so the patient has privacy,” Dodson said.

The program’s director is Carol Ham, an RN who has also taught for more 20 years at Bellingham Technical College.

“She was the first person I thought of when it came to putting together a program here,” Dodson said. “I knew she was good with students and that was really important to me.”

In the spring, NWIC will also begin offering continuing education classes caregivers are required to take to keep their credentials current. Continuing education courses will be open to the public.

Northwest Indian College is a nonprofit educational institution headquartered on the Lummi Reservation at 2522 Kwina Road in Bellingham Wash., (zip code, 98226) and can be reached by phone at (866) 676-2772 ext. 4328 or by email at info@nwic.edu.