How to start your CNA School by Victoria Randle FNP (Guest Blogger)
Deciding to become an entrepreneur can be a scary task to tackle, especially if you lack a mentor or support. You ask yourself “Where do I start? Which way do I go? Who can I trust?” It can all seem so overwhelming that you may give up before you even get started. However, with determination, perseverance, and a strong support team, it can be done! Remember, no one determines your fate but you!
In my practice as an RN, I saw a decline in the quality of CNAs. I felt this stemmed from multiple issues. One big issue was a lack of nurse support for CNAs, thus causing a lack of pride in their work. I also noticed that many schools seemed so fly-by-night, “Become a CNA in 10 days!” Are these students really getting the exposure and sense of pride that they need for the job? That’s when I decided someone has to take action and that someone would be me!
What They Don't Tell You
I had no idea where to start and figured lots of things out along the way. I must say I did some major head bumping on my journey. I met people who were very helpful, people who donated time and money in my vision and then there where those who, of course, just wanted my money and gave me only half of what I needed. Unfortunately, we can’t always see those people coming. Nevertheless, it took me two years to get my CNA program up and running. I would like to share with you the steps to get moving in the right path. I happen to be in the state of Georgia so much of this will be Georgia-based, however other states are very similar.
Identify your authorizing body for the CNA program in your state. Each state is different. The CNA program may be governed by the Health Department, the State Board of Nursing, or a separate branch that is specific to nurse aides only. In the state of Georgia the certifying body is later mentioned. The nurse aide-training program certifying body is the Georgia Medical Care Foundation (GMCF). Please click here for more info GMCF Nurse Aide info. In the state of Georgia you must attend a FREE, two-day workshop offered by the state called “Train the Trainer” in order to become a CNA instructor and/or start a CNA school. Dates for this workshop can also be found at the link above. Please note this workshop fills up FAST and is offered once a month, so have the site bookmarked and check it religiously every day to catch an open spot. I would also like to note you do not have to be a nurse to own a CNA school, however you must have a nurse (RN) be on staff to coordinate the program.
In many states you are responsible for writing your own curriculum and submitting it for approval. This affords you the ability to expound upon certain aspects you may feel are important to teach and can help you create a unique set of CNA graduates that facilities will seek out. The state of Georgia requires that your curriculum be at least 85 hours of instruction, lab and facility time. You can choose more hours if you wish. Choosing a book and writing a curriculum is VERY time consuming. It took me a year to write my own. Many states are open to which book you can use but be sure to check with your state to ensure you choose an approved book. In Georgia, they discuss how to write your curriculum and which books are approved at the Train the Trainer workshop. If you still feel stuck or overwhelmed, feel free to consult someone like myself who has been there and done that. I will be happy to provide a consult to help you with your curriculum. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitting your curriculum and waiting for approval can take up to three months in Georgia. If you are lacking any documents or something needs to be corrected in your first submission, you have two additional chances to re-submit in a one-year period. If your curriculum fails all three times, you must try again in a year so you must be diligent! In the event your curriculum passes (which it will because you will be diligent), you are contacted for a site visit by the state, and the site visit can occur up to 3 months after the curriculum has been approved. It is imperative you have a site identified and all required items ready at the site for inspection. An equipment list can also be found at the link above.
WHAT SOMEONE NEVER TOLD ME!! There are additional items that need to be submitted with your curriculum. In the state of Georgia, there is a multitude of forms you have to craft such as: Clinical sign in sheet, class sign in sheet, instructor evaluation form, student evaluation form, etc. If these are missing, you must resubmit, even though it is not part of the curriculum. Also, the entire curriculum and all these forms MUST be printed out and hand delivered to GMCF for approval. All additional documents must be resubmitted the same way, so have plenty of paper and ink handy because you will become a self-made Kinkos!
Once your curriculum has been approved and you pass the dreaded site visit, they let you know right then and there if you are approved to start, however, you cannot open the doors of the facility until you receive an actual letter in the mail. Being completely approved is the best feeling in the world!!!
Personal words of advice: PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Have a business plan written. Ensure you have a solid marketing plan and be sure to have a strong partner (this was my failure). There is no way you can do this on your own. You need someone who is just as vested as yourself in the endeavor. Of course, you will need an instructor to help teach, and an assistant to secure those students when they call--but you certainly need someone to help you in the background. Ordering supplies, marketing, accounting, building community partnerships, preparing for annual state inspections, cleaning the building, I mean the list goes on!!! I promise you, you cannot do it all alone. Both of you must understand this is not an instant cash business and you will initially be working for free just as you would with any other entrepreneur endeavor. However, with determination and perseverance, you will strive for success and you will succeed!
I am excited about your venture and hope this article was helpful. This is just an over- view, as there are many other in-depth items and situations to ponder that may come up. Never get discouraged and remember the goal in mind. You can do this! Please feel free to ask any questions below in the comments section or email me if you have more specific questions I can address.
Thank you SO much for your contribution Victoria Randel!