Two students participating in the pilot cohort. Photo courtesy of WorkForce Central.

Pierce County high school graduates can now enter the nursing field directly. The Young Adult Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Cohort launched earlier this month and aims to provide program participants with 100 hours of training, CPR certification, clinical experience, and preparation for the state nursing exam. 

Twenty Tacoma Public Schools graduates comprised the first batch of students to take part in the four-week program; their tuition has been covered by a federal grant. MultiCare Health System, Divine CNA Institute, Tacoma Public Schools, WorkForce Central, and WorkSource Pierce collaborated to start the initiative. 

“We are very excited for the students participating in this training opportunity,” Kari Haugen, director of workforce partnerships at WorkForce Central, said in a press release. “Often, the first step into a career path is the most challenging to navigate. By offering a direct connection to training while removing barriers through the provision of wrap-around services, students remain engaged during the transition between high school and the beginning of their career.”

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards added that as the region recovers after the COVID pandemic, she is reminded every day of the importance of frontline healthcare workers, including certified nursing assistants. 

“I am delighted to see that Workforce Central is now well-positioned to provide our high school graduates from Tacoma Public Schools with an opportunity to receive the critical training and education needed to fill these important family-wage jobs,” Woodards said. “All 20 spots in our inaugural class have been filled and these students are excited to complete the program and get to work.”