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Many different degrees, certifications and programs are now being offered online. Students’ lives have become more fast-pasted with work, home-life and overall every day challenges. They desire the convenience of studying online from the comfort of their own home. As of 2017, there were NO accredited Certified Nursing Assistant programs being offered exclusively online.

A method of educational delivery which is being offered by select CNA programs is that of hybrid courses. These courses will offer their students the opportunity to complete traditional classroom work online, while clinical requirements will be completed under the supervision of a trained instructor in person. This valuable resource is being offered by certain programs in an effort to recruit students who are interested in online classes.

Bismarck State College– Industry Leader in Hybrid CNA Classes Online

Bismark College is the one of the few Certified Nursing Assistant programs in the country that currently offers a hybrid course. This affords students the flexibility to receive the theory portion of their curriculum, while only reporting to campus for labs/clinicals. (Sara Vollmer, 2017). Due to the rural nature of North Dakota, these courses were recently implemented during the winter semester of 2017 in an effort to offer convenience to those students who live a great distance from Bismarck. (Sara Vollmer, 2017).

Meet the Expert: Sara Vollmer, Director of Continuing Education, Bismarck State College – Bismarck State College

Sara Vollmer received her B.S. from North Dakota State University and her M.A. from University of South Dakota . She has been working in the continuing education division of Bismarck State College for 20 years. Sara is the administrator the CNA program and the continuing education department. She has a team of CNA instructors (RNs) that teaches the curriculum.

Where did idea of the CNA Hybrid course come from? How did it develop into a course offering? How long did the process take?:
Being in a rural state, we have students that live a great distance away from Bismarck. The hybrid class gives these students some flexibility on receiving the theory portion of the curriculum. The students come to campus just for the lab and clinical portions while the theory is learned online. The process to convert the curriculum to a hybrid version took several months.

Please tell me about the curriculum and implementation of the course work? Is it through videos, BlackBoard? Is it a live site or can the students watch the videos and compete the necessary work when they have time? (What are the guidelines?):
The class is administered through our LMS system, which has been eCollege. We are moving to Blackboard this summer. The curriculum is asynchronous. The students need to complete portions of it each week so the curriculum is completed by the time they come to BSC for lab and clinical. We want the cohort to move through the curriculum at the same time. Students have weekly assignments.

Is there anything else the student needs to take the hybrid course other the a computer with internet connection?:
Other than the textbook, they just need an internet connection.

Do you find students more receptive to learning online instead of the traditional classroom setting?:

That is based on the student. Some students do well in an online format and some do not. A good online student is one who will make time for class during the week. With no set schedule, the student has to be responsible enough to keep track of what needs to be done each week and then make time to do what is required.

What is the enrollment? What is enrollment compared to your traditional face to face class that is also offered at Bismarck State College?:

We just started offering the program so it is slower than the face-to-face class. I am guessing it will always be less students. We offer it no more than quarterly. The live class is offered 11 times per year.

What are the benefits of a student taking the CNA hybrid course?:

Flexibility. Cost savings on transportation for students living outside of Bismarck, ND.

What other schools in North Dakota have this offering? Do you know any being offered anywhere else?:

The other community colleges in ND offer versions of this type of programming.

Please tell me about the process of getting the hybrid program approved by state of North Dakota?:

The ND Department of Health is the regulatory body overseeing state approved CNA programs. We were required to submit the curriculum and online platforms to the Department of Health for approval. They look at content, hours, assessment, rubrics, and clinical, and testing based on requirements set for state CNA programs.

Do you think more schools and programs will follow this model in future?:

As the need for more flexible options for student learning increased, I believe these types of programs will continue to be popular.

Any advice to students thinking about enrolling in a CNA hybrid course?:
Make time for class. In an online class, there is no set time to show up. Students need to have the commitment and desire to get the curriculum covered in the time allotted.

Is a Hybrid Online CNA Class Right for You?

As mentioned, taking CNA classes online offers a range of benefits over going the traditional route. Before you make up your mind one way or the other concerning your required training, it’s important to know what these are.

Know Your State’s Requirements
Before you start considering an online or hybrid CNA class, it’s imperative that you are clear about one specific issue. Your state will set specific education and training requirements for anyone hoping to enter this position, and you must ensure that the certified nursing assistant training online program you take adheres to those requirements. Here is what you should look for before enrolling in Hybrid Online CNA classes:
Accreditation – As with any other type of education, you need to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. Accreditation from a reputable, recognized third party proves that the school takes its promise to students very seriously and regularly updates its educational programs to reflect the most current CNA duties, specializations and education. You’ll also find that attending an accredited school will help make taking your NCLEX-PN easier – many states require that you attend an accredited course in order to enroll in the exam.

State Approval – Some states do not require that the school you attend be accredited. Instead, they require that your CNA certification online come from an “approved” school. These institutions may or may not have accreditation from a third party, but they have approval from the state’s Board of Nursing (or the equivalent). Whether or not you choose an accredited school it must be on the list of approved training providers. Otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam after completing your training.
The simplest way to determine what education standards are required in your state is to check the website for the Department of Public Health (or the equivalent). Here, you’ll be able to determine how many hours of theory work, clinicals and hands-on training you must have prior to taking the exam. You will also find out which online CNA classes have been approved by the state for aspiring nursing assistants.

Taking Hybrid Online CNA Classes

Before you make the decision to pursue CNA classes in a hybrid setting, you must ask yourself several questions about the online portion of the program. Are you a student who can learn independently? Do you possess time management skills? Are you a self-motivated student? CNA certification online is a form of distance education. As such, it offers a number of benefits, but it also requires that you be able to learn in an independent study situation.
In order to take advantage of these education programs, you’ll need to have:
– A high-speed internet connection
– A computer capable of accessing the internet
– Time management skills
– Self discipline

Benefits of Hybrid Online CNA Classes

As mentioned, taking portions of the CNA classes online offers a range of benefits which cannot be found in the traditional classroom setting. In determining whether or not this track is for you, please consider the following benefits:
Flexibility – Perhaps the most beneficial component offered by distance education is the ability to be flexible in your learning. In a traditional school setting you are subject to a stricter schedule, whereas online classes can be taken day or night. With online classes, you are given the opportunity to choose when you want to study and complete coursework. This is an excellent option for those who have full-time jobs or other responsibilities, requiring them to spend the majority of their time outside the home.

Learn at Your Own Speed – Another important advantage is that CNA classes online allow you to learn at your own pace. You will be absorbing a lot of new information, all of which will be vital for job performance, patient care, teamwork and more. Learning at your own pace helps cement that newfound knowledge.

Taking CNA classes in a hybrid setting can be an excellent solution for any number of students hoping to enjoy a rewarding career with a bright future. Follow these simple tips and you can make an informed decision regarding your education needs.