St. Joseph’s/Candler, Savannah Tech address health care shortage with nursing programs

CNA and PCT certification programs will be offered tuition free

St. Joseph’s/Candler and Savannah Technical College will help address the health care worker shortage by offering two accelerated apprenticeships for employees and potential students.

The tuition-free certified nursing assistant and patient care technician certification programs will allow students to work within the St. Joseph’s/Candler Healthcare system while taking classes at Savannah Tech.

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Paul Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler, said the students would work at the hospital for two days and attend classes for the rest of the week.

“This is a great example of how we can come together to creatively address workforce development, create new jobs and meet the health care needs of our community,” he said.

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

Hinchey said the roles of CNAs and PCTs play an essential part for nurses because they work as a team. A CNA’s primary duties are helping patients with daily tasks like eating, dressing, bathing and making beds. CNAs are supervised by a nurse and are the first step before becoming a PCT.

The new programs have begun accepting applications.

For its first year, the CNA program has accepted 56 students and will offer four classes. The PCT program has eight applicants, but more are expected to apply. The CNA program will be eight weeks long, while the PCT program is 14 weeks long.

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

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Savannah Tech president Kathy Love said before the COVID-19 pandemic, the college was graduating between 600 and 700 students from its health care programs, but the number dropped after the pandemic hit.

“We want people to know that it’s time to come back, ... its time to come back and get the training that we provide that can’t be done online,” she said.

While she checked her patient’s vital signs, CNA Bonique McPhaul said she will be part of the PCT program, and it will help her to advance in her career. She has worked as a CNA for more than 20 years and wants to become nurse.

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Bianca Moorman/Savannah Morning News

"I've been in this field for so long. I actually should have been a nurse, but life happens," she said. "Children, you know, I got a chance to do it, but at least if I could get, you know, a little step closer to my goal, which is one step to become a nurse."

How to apply

Interested students will have to apply for CNA and PCT positions at St. Joseph’s/Candler and the programs at Savannah Tech.

Bianca Moorman is the education reporter. Reach her at or 912-239-7706. Find her on Twitter @biancarmoorman.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: St. Joseph’s/Candler, Savannah Tech address healthcare shortage with nursing programs