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Real-world Training and Proven Partnerships Help University Health Lakewood Medical Center Develop Talent for Critical Healthcare Positions

By Janice Phelan, October 4, 2021

CNA Graduates, Lakewood Medical Center Partnership with UCMRecent CNA graduates participating in the University Health Lakewood Medical Center partnership celebrate their graduation during an event at the Missouri Innovation Campus.

Exposing students to real-life experiences and a solid curriculum are key elements of an innovative training program for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at University Health Lakewood Medical Center (formerly called Truman Medical Center Lakewood). The medical center has joined forces with the University of Central Missouri and the Full Employment Council to provide quality training for high-demand CNA positions.


“UCM has developed a strong curriculum to train and prepare CNA students for jobs at University Health Lakewood Medical Center Care Center,” said Lynette M. Wheeler, chief operating officer University Health Lakewood Medical Center. “Our students enter full-time positions well prepared to do the job immediately and know the environment they will work in. This reduces the orientation time and associated expenses, and we know the level of training accomplished. This also benefits the residents as caregivers are prepared for the level of care and support on day one.”


Clarinda Dir, UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education program manager, said the partnership helps fill the healthcare talent pool with employees who have job experience at the medical facility. 


“This partnership and others really started with the pandemic when we could not get students in facilities for clinicals unless they were employees,” Dir said. “This allows students to establish their career path resulting in a win-win for the organization and the students.”


During the partnership’s approximately two-year history, around 30 medical center employees have received CNA training from UCM. To make earning this high-demand certificate even more accessible to students, the Full Employment Council (FEC) provides scholarships for qualifying individuals.

The exposure to real-life experiences during training is especially valuable.


“They are hired by University Health Lakewood Medical Center Care Center prior to starting the CNA program,” Wheeler said. “That lets them enter the workforce with real expectations and confidence that they can do the job.”


Wheeler added that the medical center managers and supervisors have been pleased with the program, sharing that the UCM graduates are well trained with excellent retention.


“University Health Lakewood Medical Center has benefitted with a close working relationship with UCM leadership, including Clarinda Dir, to build a program that meets both our needs and those of the students,” Wheeler said. “Our staff describes them as ‘providing a great curriculum which prepares them to work here."


CNAs who know what is expected at University Health Lakewood Medical Center from the beginning is a major advantage of the homegrown program.


“The partnership channels well-trained and willing candidates to our entry-level CNA positions,” Wheeler said. “Additionally, the candidates come to us with a clear understanding of the workplace and its requirements.”


Individuals interested in enrolling in the CNA or other UCM certificate programs may visit the UCM Center for Workforce and Professional Education webpage or contact Dir at The CNA program can be completed in a few months.


The University of Central Missouri operates campus locations in Warrensburg, Online and Lee’s Summit with UCM’s Workforce and Professional Education programs housed at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. 


University Health Lakewood Medical Center is a 117-bed community hospital, located in Eastern Jackson County. Lead service lines located on campus include Family Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Obstetrics and GI. A 188-bed long-term care facility is attached to the hospital. The campus is also home to the UMKC School of Medicine Community and Family Medicine Residency program. 


The Full Employment Council is a non-profit employment agency that helps unemployed and underemployed Missourians in the Kansas City and Eastern Jackson County areas prepare for and find sustainable careers while also providing supportive services to aid in their success.


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