Yahaira Ramirez, director of Clinical Operations for Smith Senior Living (from left), Michelle Bailey, CNA; Fredella Perteete, CNA, and Marti Jatis, executive director for Smith Village celebrate the completion of the new CNAs’ completion of classwork and passing the test for certification. (Supplied photo)

Yahaira Ramirez, director of Clinical Operations for Smith Senior Living (from left), Michelle Bailey, CNA; Fredella Perteete, CNA, and Marti Jatis, executive director for Smith Village celebrate the completion of the new CNAs’ completion of classwork and passing the test for certification. (Supplied photo)

Smith Village employees complete CNA program at Moraine Valley Community College

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Smith Village, a life plan community in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, teamed-up with educators at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills so employees interested in becoming nurses could participate in a new program designed to attract students new to the field.

“The idea is to fund short- and long-term education programs so people can enter the healthcare field and earn better wages in jobs that are in high demand,” says Debi Savage, director of nursing at Moraine Valley. “At the moment, the nursing shortage makes the need clear.”

MVCC’s funding paid for tuition, books, fees, supplies and a gas card to cover transportation expenses. Smith Village augmented those benefits by paying hourly wages to employees attended class and assigned coworkers to cover their schedules while they were in class. They also guaranteed jobs as CNAs as soon as they earned certification.

Michelle Bailey, who has worked for two years as a housekeeper at Smith Village, dreamed of being a nurse when she was young, so she saw this opportunity as a second chance.

“I thought about the studying, the books and the hard work of school and wondered if I really wanted to go through all of that again,” she says. “But I gathered my courage and decided to go for it.” Now, just three months later, Bailey is working in her new role at a higher salary.

“I always wanted to be a certified nursing assistant,” says Fredella Perteete, who has worked as a server since January of 2022 in Smith Village’s dining rooms. “But I put off going to school because it’s expensive.”

Perteete sees this program as her first step in advancing her career in nursing as she plans to return to school and earn her LPN certification.

“We met each week and really saw a change in both students,” says Karen Jellema, director of human resources at Smith Senior Living. “Their confidence increased. The way they spoke changed. We witnessed them growing into their new role at Smith Village. We are very proud to have two trusted employees join our nursing staff.”

This program offers one solution to the nursing shortage that has challenged senior living, hospitals and clinics nationwide, but it also aligns with Smith Village’s employment policies.

“Smith Village believes in attracting employees who believe in our mission, supporting their education and promoting from within,” says Marti Jatis, executive director at Smith Village. “Our residents will benefit from the expertise of these caring employees.  We’re so pleased to see them advance their careers.”

For more information about Smith Village, please call 773-474-7300.

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