October 3, 2022

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Photo courtesy Hilo Medical Center Angie Kanae, left, Nurse Aide Training Program Coordinator, and Keisha Ebanez, Nurse Aide in the Emergency Department, demonstrating the use of the vital signs monitor.
Photo courtesy Hilo Medical Center Angie Kanae, left, Nurse Aide Training Program coordinator, and Keisha Ebanez, nurse aide in the Emergency Department, demonstrating the use of the vital signs monitor.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii identified nurse aides as the most vacant position in the medical field statewide.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii identified nurse aides as the most vacant position in the medical field statewide.
To combat the shortage, Hilo Medical Center has started a new paid nurse aide training program, where those over the age of 18 with a high school diploma can learn the basics before joining a nursing unit at HMC.

“We are paying them to learn,” said HMC Critical Care Nurse Director Yvette Masaoka. “Our target audience is the group that’s 18 and over who may be interested in the medical field but have not yet made the leap into either a certified aide training program or nursing school.”
The two-week course is the first of its kind for HMC.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had an opportunity like this for nursing aides,” said HMC spokesperson Elena Cabatu. “Those individuals out there in our community who are looking for a change of pace or a foot in the door at the hospital, this is a great opportunity.”
Starting Sept. 6, the eight-position cohort will cover basic life support, high-performance CPR, proper use of PPE, HIPAA, client safety, proper lifting and moving of patients, and other necessary skills to prepare nurse aides prior to joining a unit at HMC.
“They’ll get the baseline with me and the other educators and aides, and when they go to their respective units, they’ll get more specialized training,” said Program Coordinator and Health Supervisor Angie Kanae, who will lead the first cohort.
Those who finish the program have the opportunity to move on to the surgical pediatric, emergency room, progressive care and other nursing units within HMC.
“I believe every nursing department currently has a few positions open, and what we intend to do is once we get those applicants on board through our HR process, we will put them in this program,” Masaoka said. “Once they’re done with this two-week program, we acknowledge the fact that they’ve been through it and then allow them to go to their home units where they then partner with a preceptor, or a more seasoned nurse aide, or certified nurse aide, and they learn specifically what their unit needs.”
The goal is to train between two and five cohorts of 10 students per year, depending on interest, which could potentially result in HMC hiring up to 50 additional nurse aide positions annually. This would cut down on the amount of traveling nurses and supplement those who move up the ladder at HMC throughout their medical careers.
“A lot of our aides are going to nursing school and are getting into our Registered Nurse program, so we have to fill those gaps,” said Kanae. “We need to grow our community, because the need is there.”
The concept began one month ago after HMC was made aware of the statewide nurse aide shortage. A task force was formed with Kanae leading the group, and now the new program is ready to launch.
“There’s not that many aide programs out there, and the ones that are out there, they’re costly,” Kanae said. “This is going to help get the people that are interested but kind of worried and don’t want to commit to nursing school. They can at least go in this way, and maybe we’ll attract more people that way to help with the shortage.”
Interested applicants can apply to one of the eight positions by visiting www.HiloMedicalCenter.org/careers or by calling Human Resources directly at (808) 932-3150.
“This is your chance to serve our community,” said Kanae. “We’re excited and optimistic that it’ll be successful.”
Email Grant Phillips at gphillips@hawaiitribune-herald.com.




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