INA, Ill. (July 27, 2012) – Taking the first step toward a nursing career just got easier, thanks to a local education center and its focus on training and retaining rural healthcare professionals.
    Many students who decide to start their career in Rend Lake College’s Certified Nurse Assistant Program in August will benefit from a scholarship through the South Central Illinois Area Health Education Center (SCI-AHEC). The scholarships are just one way SCI-AHEC aims to fulfill its mission of motivating healthcare professionals to work in their home area.  
    Kim Robert, chair of RLC’s Allied Health Division, said the $5,000 in scholarships are being delivered on a first-come, first-serve basis to students who enroll in the CNA program. RLC offers this eight-week program in Mount Vernon, Pinckneyville and McLeansboro. Classes begin Tuesday, Aug. 14., at the RLC MarketPlace in Mount Vernon; Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus; and Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Hamilton County Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in McLeansboro. For information on how to enroll, call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1251.
    “Because we waive CNA tuition for individuals living in the RLC District, an in-district student pays less than  $150 for our program. In-district students make up 99% of our program,” Robert said. “This scholarship gift from SCI-AHEC will help many of the students in our next cycle.”
    Robert encouraged students to consider sticking with RLC’s nursing track after completing the CNA program. “We really like to see a high percentage of CNA students move on to the next step – our 11-month LPN program,” she said. “Nursing is a field where more education typically translates into higher wages.”   
    The number of nursing jobs at nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities will grow much faster than the industry average over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Spring Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Reports predict an increase of nearly 400,000 jobs at nursing homes alone in the U.S. between 2008-2018.
    RLC President Terry Wilkerson expressed his gratitude for SCI-AHEC’s effort to stock the region with a skilled nursing workforce.  
    “A large amount of nurses are now hitting retirement age. The number of aging adults needing care is growing. That combination is swinging the employment door wide open for qualified applicants. When they go to get certified, students in our CNA program test higher than the average across Illinois. At Rend Lake College, we can teach you the skills you need to not only get the job you want, but be very successful at it and valuable to your employer,” said Wilkerson.

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