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NECC has Graduated 100 CNA’s Since Start of Pandemic; Filling Community Need

Submitted by on April 12, 2021 – 4:59 pm

Congrats to these graduates, who completed the NECC CNA Program in late March.


Northern Essex Community College’s Center for Corporate and Community Education is partnering with area health care employers to meet an urgent need for certified nurse assistants (CNA’s).

In March of 2020, the college had to cancel its grant-funded CNA Training Program because of COVID restrictions.

“We were struggling to determine how we could transition the classroom portion of the program to online delivery and find a healthcare facility for the clinical portion of the program,” said Margaret Glenn, program director.

The college successfully accomplished both goals, thanks in large part to Hannah Duston Healthcare Center in Haverhill, which offered their facility as a site for clinical training.

Last May, the college became the first to receive approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to offer CNA training in the new format.

Since then, 100 CNA’s have graduated and are now working in health care facilities, such as Lawrence General, Hannah Duston, Penacook Place, Sutton Hill, and Prescott House.

In many cases, employers are sponsoring the CNA’s, covering the cost of the program, and the college is recruiting now for grant-funded programs, beginning in May, June, and August, which will be free to students.

The four-week program includes two weeks of class time, delivered online; two days of skills practice, held at the CNA Skills Lab located on the Lawrence Campus; and a 25-hour clinical, which is conducted at Hannah Duston. Graduates are prepared to take Massachusetts Red Cross Nurse Aide Certification Exam.

The program has close to a 100% placement rate, according to program faculty. “If they want a job, they’re getting a job,” says Heather Waniga, RN, program coordinator. “Hannah Duston is hiring many of our grads, right from their clinical experience.”

Students in the program have a wide mix of ages and backgrounds, ranging from teenagers to career changers in their mid-50’s. “That’s what makes it fun to teach,” says instructor Christine Florence, a nurse practitioner with years of experience working with geriatric patients. “I can’t say enough about these students and their enthusiasm.” The second instructor in the program is Lisa Florence.

CNA’s work closely with patients and residents to provide many direct care needs. Under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN), the CNA can be responsible for personal care (bathing, toileting, and other hygiene related needs), turning or moving patients, checking vital signs, feeding patients, safety procedures, and assisting with some medical procedures. CNAs can work in many different healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, home care, and rehab facilities.

For more information, contact Heather Waniga, at

NECC’s Center for Corporate & Community Education offers noncredit business, professional, career, and personal development courses as well as professional certificates and computer training for individuals and companies looking for cutting-edge skills, by providing the training that is most needed in today’s workforce. For more information email or call 978-659-1200 or visit us online

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700.