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Valley Senior Living increases training pay for CNAs amid nurse shortage

The training, which is five weeks long, has more than doubled its pay and now comes at a rate of $13.50 per hour for the first four weeks and $16 per hour for the fifth week while serving as a nursing aid. After their certification is complete, trainees are placed in jobs as CNAs at Valley Senior Living with a standard pay rate of $18.50 an hour, which is also subject to possible increases.

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Sally Rude, RNA/CNA at Valley Senior Living on Columbia Road, visits with resident Daniel Kosmatka. Jacob Holley / Grand Forks HeraldSally Rude, RNA/CNA at Valley Senior Living on Columbia Road, visits with resident Daniel Kosmatka.
Jacob Holley

As it deals with labor shortages, Valley Senior Living is increasing training pay for those wishing to become CNAs at the facility.

The training, which is five weeks long, has more than doubled its pay and now comes at a rate of $13.50 per hour for the first four weeks and $16 per hour for the fifth week while serving as a nursing aid. After their certification is complete, trainees are placed in jobs as CNAs at Valley Senior Living with a standard pay rate of $18.50 an hour, which is also subject to possible increases.

“I think it’s an awesome benefit for our community and for those that may be looking for employment in healthcare,” Sally Grosgebauer, director of marketing at Valley Senior Living, said.

Paying trainees is something Valley Senior Living has been doing for years, but the increase in pay came last summer as a way to combat workforce shortages. The COVID-19 pandemic only made the problems worse. According to the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, 60% of its 211 members have stopped taking admissions since last fall. Urban cities have not been hit as hard, which includes Grand Forks, with only 30% of facilities halting admissions.

Valley Senior Living has not had to halt admissions, but nurses have had to cover and pick up shifts as needed.

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“Primarily, that happened as we originally had a wage set, and then once they get through the class, they get to another wage,” Chief HR Officer Adam Edwards said. “We decided that we needed to close the gap on that differential, so that it was more attractive and enticing to members of the community who wanted to obtain that license, and then obviously work for us. So, it was more so an employment recruitment tool that we wanted to invoke just to make it more enticing to work at Valley senior living, and bridge that gap so there was not as much financial hardship or discouragement than there was earlier.”

The five-week training program consists of four weeks of intensive education to begin, where the trainees learn theory, skills and preparation work while still getting clinical experience before taking an exam. The North Dakota requirement for training is a minimum of 75 hours.

“We've got members of different various departments coming to speak about the relationships between what their departments do, and how they serve the residents and how CNAs assist there,” Edwards said. “That's ultimately about 130 hours then in that first four weeks.”

Edwards said Valley Senior Living purposely goes above and beyond the training requirements in order to make sure trainees are adequately prepared to begin work their first day. It is a lot to take in, especially considering anyone can sign up for training regardless of their experience level. If a person can undergo the training, they can be immediately placed into a job as a CNA paying just over $36,000 per year in fewer than two months.

“They do not need to have any prerequisites before enrolling in the office opportunity,” Edwards said. “They could have spent their entire career in banking or in retail, and if they want to make the change to serving the community that we have here, they can most certainly do it at a moment's notice and not need to have any experience in their employment history to stop this endeavor.”

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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This piece was written for Prairie Business, which covers business in the Dakotas and Minnesota. To receive a free digital edition each month, see the instructions at the bottom of this story.