CNA Fast Track in Winthrop

Fast-track nursing assistant training program comes to Methow Valley

Re-published with permission from Methow Valley News
Originally published September 2014
Methow Valley News Health and Wellness

By Theresa Taylor
Wenatchee Valley College staff writer

Methow Valley News Health and Wellness

Methow Valley News Health and
Wellness, September 2014. Click
on image for copy of article.


In recent weeks, as a result of the fires burning throughout the Methow Valley, residents and local businesses have shown how a community can come together to support one another during a time of need.

That kind of support was also demonstrated when, before and during the fires, the community collaborated with Wenatchee Valley College (WVC) to support a certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program.

North Central Washington--areas such as the Methow Valley, Okanogan, Tonasket, Chelan, Cashmere and Leavenworth in particular--needs nursing assistants. Recognizing that need, Carol Gaston, a board member at Jamie's Place and Mountain View, Winthrop care centers for the elderly, asked Jenny Capelo, WVC Dean of Allied Health, whether a fast-track CNA program could be brought to the Methow Valley. The fast-track CNA program offered through WVC Continuing Education provides training in the provision of personal care skills and instructs students in the roles and responsibilities of a nursing assistant. While the program is offered on the Wenatchee campus, it has never been taken off site before.

"The community in the Methow came together and said 'we want this,'" said Michele Gedrose, program developer for WVC Continuing Education. "This was the perfect combination of people, facilities and timing."

The process to start a new program takes nine to 12 months--the college must receive approval from the Department of Health Nursing Commission for the class location, clinical location and the instructor. Approval for a CNA fast-track course in the Methow Valley took only six months. During that time Gaston had recruited students for the program and the Methow Valley School District provided a location for classes--Liberty Bell High School.

The class ran from July 8 through Aug. 20. Eight students, both traditional and nontraditional, enrolled in the course taught by Sheila Brandenburg, a nurse and director of Jamie's Place. Judy Tonseth, treasurer for Methow Valley Senior Citizens, offered $2,000 to offset the $725 tuition that each student paid for the program. The donation was split among the eight students.

"Despite the fact that there was a major wildfire in our valley, it worked," Gaston said of the program. As a statement to the resiliency of the program, only one class needed to be rescheduled.

The community of Omak also supported the program. Students commuted to Regency Omak Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, which agreed to provide a location for clinicals. Students spent class time learning nursing theory and participated in a minimum of 35 hours of clinicals. Those who successfully complete the course may take the state licensure exam.

Gaston explained that she hopes the program will make it easier for people in the valley to get started in the health care field and that local students enrolled in the program will be able to work with elders in local care centers such as Jamie's Place and Mountain View. Gaston and Brandenburg would like to see the program continue annually or semi-annually.

"It has been a great experience to instruct local people to advance their education and seek further opportunities for their future," Brandenburg said.

"This is all about meeting the mission of the college," Capelo said--to be responsive to community needs, and to celebrate the success of the students and the community.

Students interested in future classes or who would like more information should contact Carol Gaston at