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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Novant Health and Atrium Health are announcing an initiative to support the professional development and advancement of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to the position of registered nurse (RN). Atrium Health and Novant Health are piloting this CNA-to-RN scholarship program for CNAs in the Charlotte area as a joint ONE Charlotte Health Alliance effort. The first scholarships have been offered to 10 CNAs – five at each health system – interested in becoming registered nurses.
The two health systems collaborated to identify CNAs as a segment of team members to pilot career growth programs. This pilot program serves as an upward mobility initiative to support internal advancement and improve financial well-being among team members, particularly those living in priority zip codes as identified in the Charlotte Opportunity Task Force.
“We know that the health of our community can suffer as a result of a discrepancy in opportunities, including access to education, jobs and quality health care,” said Janet Smith-Hill, executive vice president and chief human resources officer, Novant Health. “As part of our commitment to the ONE Charlotte Health Alliance, it made sense for the two largest health care providers in the region to start by looking at our own team members and identify ways we can support their professional advancement, despite any barriers they may have faced in the past.”
“As the largest employer in Charlotte, we continuously seek ways to provide teammates opportunities to advance economically and professionally,” said Jim Dunn, PhD, chief human resources officer at Atrium Health. “By partnering with Novant Health, we can make an even bigger impact in the Charlotte area. This scholarship program is an example of how our organizations are committed to investing in our teammates to improve financial well-being and support internal advancement, a key strategic priority of the ONE Charlotte Health Alliance.”
In planning for the program, CNAs at both health systems provided feedback about their goals for career advancement and potential barriers to achieving those goals. The two most frequently cited obstacles were finances for education and work flexibility. Teams tasked with developing the scholarship program were challenged to create a plan that allows teammates to pursue their educational goals while continuing to excel in their jobs.
The scholarships will provide up to two years of up-front coverage of tuition and fees for an approved nursing program, leading to licensure as a registered nurse. Participating CNAs will also be offered the flexibility of working a reduced schedule.
“I’ve never had such a drive for anything else in my life quite like this,” said Amanda Tahlmore, certified nurse assistant at Atrium Health and recipient of the CNA-to-RN scholarship. “This program will give me the opportunity to learn new skills and advance my career, while allowing me to have the schedule I need for school and to meet my personal and professional goals. I hope that I can pay it forward throughout my career.”
"Novant Health has played a huge part in my journey to become a nurse,” said Brittany Lawrence, certified nurse assistant at Novant Health and recipient of the CNA-to-RN scholarship. “Being a CNA was my first job in healthcare and the guidance and support of my coworkers has been indispensable. I am thankful for the opportunity to dedicate more time to my studies and hone my skills, and I cannot wait to continue to grow with Novant Health."
This program is designed to promote individual professional development, while advancing both health systems’ organizational goals of addressing future nursing needs, engaging team members, identifying top talent and increasing diversity.
Together, Atrium Health and Novant Health continue to support ONE Charlotte Health Alliance’s mission to strengthen Charlotte communities and promote the economic advancement of all Charlotte citizens. The ONE Charlotte Health Alliance is part of the ONE Charlotte initiative, designed to provide holistic support in education, jobs, health and justice by integrating programs and services to meet the needs of under-served communities in Charlotte.