The transition from her initial job preparing meals for nursing home residents to becoming part of their care team as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) was an easy one for Alba Marroquin.
“Everything is going awesome with the residents because I kind of know what they like and what they don’t,” she says. “I am so comfortable working as a CNA now. I loved working as a Dietary Aide too, but this is what I really wanted to do.”
Marroquin graduated in December 2019 from the CNA certification program offered by the Education Fund. Her cohort, which included nursing home workers from participating facilities and a few In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers, took classes through the American Medical Career College in Pomona. A new cohort has already started in the first quarter of 2020.
After passing her state exam, Marroquin was hired immediately as a CNA at Laurel Wellness (Longwood facility) where she had been working as a Dietary Aide since June 2019. For workers in dietary, housekeeping and other non-clinical positions at skilled nursing facilities, the certification sets them on a new career path.
“I never thought I might be able to achieve this goal, but now I feel more secure than before,” she says. “I am truly grateful for this opportunity that the Education Fund has given me.”
The Education Fund offers the CNA program to eligible workers employed at nursing home facilities participating in a labor-management partnership with SEIU Local 2015. The program provides a solution to the severe staffing shortage in California’s nursing homes, which need an estimated 1,700 to 2,400 additional nursing assistants  as an industry to help meet state staffing requirements. It also helps reduce employee turnover by increasing staff morale and job satisfaction.
To help nursing homes retain and strengthen their nursing staff, the Education Fund also offers a 30-week mentoring program with employer and union collaboration that matches longtime CNAs with those who, like Marroquin, are just starting out. Additionally, eligible CNAs can earn a Restorative Nursing Assistant (RNA) certification through the Fund.
While she was undergoing the CNA training, Marroquin gained a new appreciation for the work of nursing assistants and the patients under their care. “I learned to have more respect for elderly people and for all CNAs.”
Marroquin has her sights on advancing her career through more training programs such as the ones the Education Fund offers. “I want to go for Licensed Vocational Nurse or a Registered Nurse,” she says. “I want to continue studying because now I’m confident I can do everything that I put my mind to. This (CNA course) gave me that confidence.”