GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – The Western Colorado Area Health Education Center wants to create scholarships with these federal funds, getting more certified nurse aides and personal care providers though classroom training and apprenticeships.

WCAHEC has been turning out top-quality CNAs for decades through a cost-effective offer. With the scholarships, the program is nearly completely free for those who qualify.

“We have free scholarships right now; they cover books, training, scrubs,” WCAHEC Executive Director Georgia Hoaglund details, “As soon as they get a hold of us we can work with them one on one and get them in a facility training facility and employee just as soon as they get out of school and help them get their state board exams taken.”

The goal is to enroll 100 CNA apprentices and 160 PCP apprentices over the next four years. 40 employers have already signed on as registered apprenticeship sites in Mesa and Delta County.

Classes at the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center are offered in the evenings, to be flexible with work schedules.

Individuals 17 years or older not in high school (but can be in college) with a commitment to immediate employment upon completion of either the 5-week CNA or 1-week PCP course are eligible. Applicants complete an eligibility screening and are then enrolled in the H-1B Rural Healthcare Grant Program.

The Grant pays the cost of course (student will pay for immunizations and background check). In addition, students complete a continuing education Scholars Program consisting of 40 additional hours of on-line learning and 40 hours of on-the-job training.

After completion of the coursework students are placed at a Registered Apprenticeship Employer Site as a paid employee for the next 12 months. Among the individuals eligible to receive training, those of particular interest include veterans, military spouses, transitioning service members, and underrepresented populations including women, people of color, and other populations with employment barriers that hinder movement into nursing occupations.