VERMONT INNOVATOR NEWS • WEEK OF AUGUST 12, 2019

Central Vermont Medical Center Launches
Workforce Development Program
Berlin, Vt. — Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) – in partnership with the Community Colleges of Vermont (CCV) and the Vermont Technical College (VTC) – is launching a new workforce development program aimed at addressing the shortage of nurses in Vermont. The new program will make it easier for employeed Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNAs) to train to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) by reducing the two biggest barriers to higher education: time and money.

“Right now, we have the lowest unemployment rate in Vermont’s history,” says Robert Patterson, Vice President of Human Resources and Clinical Operations. “That makes it challenging to find skilled nurses. We realized that we couldn’t just wait for qualified people to apply for jobs, and the alternative of hiring traveling nurses is expensive. We needed to look at how we could invest in our staff to move them into key positions.”

Eighteen LNAs from the medical center will start down the path of becoming LPNs by taking prerequisite courses this fall through CCV. After, the pilot group will go through an 11-month LPN training program through VTC. Students in the program will continue to work part-time but receive full-time pay and benefits during their training hours.

The staff at CVMC are deeply rooted in our community,” says Anna Tempesta Noonan, President and Chief Operations Officer. “They’re committed to our organization and the patients, residents, and families that we serve. Supporting their career development is one of the best investments we can make.”

One of the newly enrolled students, Sydney Konopka, an LNA at Woodridge Rehabilitation and Nursing, is optimistic about how this program will impact her life and allow her to keep serving her residents. “I want to expand the ways I can help our residents,” says Sydney. “This program is an opportunity to grow while gaining knowledge that I can use to help them more.”

Like many hospitals, CVMC offers tuition reimbursement, but they found that many staff – including LNAs – still couldn’t balance the demands of a fulltime job, family, and schooling all at the same time.

“When we were creating this program, we sat down with our LNAs,” says Matt Choate, Chief Nursing Officer. “We asked them, ‘what are the barriers preventing you from growing your career?’ What we heard was that we need to pay people while they’re learning, and we need to make the school and the classroom content really easy to access.” The program will be held on weekends at Central Vermont Medical Center’s main campus. Funding for the LNA-to-LPN program comes from CVMC and a combination of state and federal grants.