Columbia-based Lorien Health Services recently hosted 30 Howard County high school students when it kicked off its Certified Nursing Assistant apprenticeship program.

Like many states, Maryland is facing a major nursing shortage, as it has just 8.08 nurses per 1,000 people, which is below the 9.22 national average and puts Maryland in the bottom 10 states, according to NurseJournal. In response, Lorien is doubling its efforts to educate high school students about careers in nursing, and at nursing homes, by providing them with resources to heighten access to the nursing assistant certification process.

“This shortage means opportunity,” Chelsea DuBey, at Lorien Columbia, told the students. “Opportunities for you at Lorien are endless. We are looking for talented young people who want to become Certified Nursing Assistants and Geriatric Nursing Assistants. We will train you. We will pay for your testing and training materials, and we will provide a path to success.”

The students are part of the Apprenticeship Maryland Program, of the Howard County Public School System.

The Lorien recruitment team spoke about job pathways within the company, including becoming a dietician, a registered nurse, an infection control specialist, and in marketing and communications.

The event was the second apprenticeship program Lorien has held for Howard County students in the past two months. Stephanie Discepolo of the Apprenticeship Maryland Program said this is the third year the organization has worked with Lorien and that “60 high school juniors have applied for the CNA/GNA apprenticeship program.

“The interest has grown tremendously,” she said. “In year three with Lorien, we have seen a big increase in interest from the students. They rotate through the departments working in dietary, housekeeping and activities. They are building on their competencies and by the end of the year, they are CNAs and GNAs. They are being paid to learn hands-on.”

In addition to partnering with the Apprenticeship Maryland Program, Lorien is working with Baltimore’s Dwyer Workforce Development, a nonprofit with the mission of removing barriers to entering the health care profession as a CNA, and to encourage workers to stay by providing wrap-around services, mentoring, and opportunities for advancement to LPN and RN certification.

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