Inaugural Class Graduates from Homeland’s Nurse Aide Training Program


CNA Training Graduation graduate and teacher posing together

Graduation days are special for graduates and everyone involved in their learning. Getting to the “big day” takes hard work and sacrifice by students and support from family members. Graduation also is a time for educators to celebrate the success of the learning process. Homeland Center recently held its first graduation day from its accredited Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.

“We are very proud of our first class of graduates,” says Kathy Kuchwara, RN/Clinical Instructor. “CNAs are the backbone of our work.”

In 2019, Homeland began developing its own Nurse Aide training program to develop current talent at Homeland as well as recruit and train new employees interested in becoming CNAs. Prior to this, Homeland used a program provided by an outside entity. Homeland staff members Dawn Mason, Quality Assurance CNA Manager, and Nicol Brown, Chief HR and Corporate Compliance Officer, worked with a health care education consultant to create a program specifically designed to meet Homeland’s core principles and values, while meeting the accreditation guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This was a comprehensive and focused effort slowed only due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“Our program is stringent and demanding,” Kathy adds. “It takes focus and dedication to complete the course.”

Homeland offers two CNA training sessions. Kathy leads a three-week session during the day with extended hours. Raechelle Sanford, RN/Clinical Instructor leads a five-week evening class. The flexibility of sessions provides options for students who are working at the same time as they are pursuing this important education advancement.

Prior to starting the course, prospective students meet with Dawn Mason, QA CNA Mgr/Program Administrative Assistant, to assess their skill level, interest, and level of compassion they have for others. This is to ensure that not only the CNA profession is a good fit, but they have a heart and ability to mesh with Homeland’s organizational culture. The goal is to provide a pipeline of committed CNAs to share their time and talents with Homeland. Once accepted, students begin the course. Kathy and Raechelle offer a fast-paced and intense curriculum to mirror the pace of daily work and social interactions required of a CNA.  The curriculum also includes Classroom and Clinical instruction, along with tests, mid-terms, a final exam, and a clinical skills assessment.

Upon successful completion, the students attend a graduation ceremony, complete with caps, gowns, and family attendance. Graduates must then schedule and pass a written exam and a skills exam administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to obtain their official certification.

Homeland has completed two training sessions and has more planned to keep up with the high demand for CNAs. The pandemic coupled with the aging Baby Boomer generation have caused the need for CNAs to skyrocket.

For Kathy, the Nurse Aide Training Program is a true labor of love. She has worked for Homeland for more than 18 years and has deep admiration and love for the residents she has worked with during her tenure. While Kathy has technically retired from her career at Homeland, she continues to work part-time on the CNA program to help more students reach their career aspirations.

“Homeland is always in need of talented CNAs,” Kathy says. “Compassion is the key to success.”

Homeland Center, which occupies a full block in uptown Harrisburg, is a licensed not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community offering exceptional personal care, skilled nursing care, memory care and short-term rehabilitation. Homeland consistently receives CMS’s highest recognition for quality care, staffing, and safety – ranking it among the best in the country.

For more information on the CNA training course, contact 717-221-7797.