VHS Grows its Workforce with Apprenticeship Program

VHS Grows its Workforce with Apprenticeship Program

Newport News, VA. – Virginia Health Services (VHS) is looking to grow its workforce and develop a pipeline of team
members for its independent, assisted living and nursing home facilities, as well as home health care, rehabilitation
and hospice services.

VHS has launched its participation in the Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP), which is funded
with a Department of Labor Closing the Skills Gap Grant and has an emphasis on careers in senior living.
VHS is investing in its employees from the start. The apprenticeship offers paid, on-the-job training. VHS’s program
is starting with providing paid training to Care Assistants (CAs) as they elevate to Certified Nursing Assistants

HAEP reports 94% of apprentices continue employment following the completion of the apprenticeship.
“Employees are earning as they’re learning,” said Rebecca Boyd, VHS Vice President of Nursing. “It’s not common
for training to be paid. We’re giving employees the opportunity to launch and grow meaningful careers.”
HAEP will provide educational and training resources for participants. VHS aims to grow the program to include
apprenticeships for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), pharmacy technicians, and
housekeeping and culinary positions.

VHS’s first class of apprentices graduated Thursday, April 22. The ceremony marked the completion of their CA
training, and they will continue their education as Nursing Assistants until taking the exam to certify them as CNAs.
The apprenticeship program covers the cost of the exam, administered by the Virginia Board of Nursing.
The next apprenticeship class starts May 3. Apprenticeship classes will also be offered throughout the year. To
learn more, visit www.vahs.com.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in health care to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, adding
about 2.4 million new jobs. The Bureau attributes the projected growth to an aging population and increased need in
health care services.

“It’s a group effort,” said Bryanna Rhodes, VHS Director of Education. “We have two days of orientation before CAs
begin on-the-job training. They are working with CNAs and other nursing professionals who serve as their mentors
and support system in our facilities.”

Those in the apprenticeship program have access to Family Scholar House, a financial assistance program meant to
alleviate barriers to starting a career. Family Scholar House can offer resources and funds to help cover academic
coaching, affordable housing, transportation, child care, emergencies, and more. It is offered to those in the HAEP
grant program at no additional charge.

About VHS
Locally owned and headquartered in Newport News, Virginia since 1963, Virginia Health Services offers exceptional
senior living and health care services. We specialize in the continuum of care from active lifestyle independent and
assisted senior living communities, to skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. Our 1,200+ employees are
passionate and committed to the well-being and quality care of our residents. Beyond our thoughtfully maintained
communities located throughout the Virginia Peninsula, we offer a full range of personalized skilled health care,
outpatient therapy, home care and hospice services by specially trained staff in the comfort and privacy of your
home. To learn more, please visit our website at www.vahs.com.


Virginia Health Services’ first class of apprentices graduates

First class of Virginia Health Services apprentices graduates

The first class of Virginia Health Services’ apprentices graduated April 22, 2021, from CAs to Nursing Assistants. The ceremony was in Styron Square at Port Warwick in Newport News.

Virginia Health Services recently launched a partnership with the Healthcare Apprenticeship Extension Program, and it already has reached a milestone.

The first class of apprentices graduated Thursday on Styron Square at Port Warwick in Newport News. The six grads completed Care Assistant training and will continue their education as Nursing Assistants.

The ceremony on the Square celebrated the completion of multi-week on-the-job training at York Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center.

The graduates will continue their training to culminate with the CNA exam, paid for by the apprenticeship program, to certify them.

Graduates Sabrina Baylor (Valedictorian), Keirah Hall (Salutatorian), Tracy Green, Tina Lee, Niya Owens and Elizabeth Steere and their families braved the chilly weather to celebrate their achievements.

Their instructor, Nora Gillespie, RN, told them, “Lead with your heart. You have the opportunity to touch a life.”

Valedictorian Sabrina Baylor receives her certificate from instructor Nora Gillespie.

She said she was impressed by the group’s teamwork to get through their skills training and classwork.

“You have heart. You have compassion,” she said. “You’ll need all of it.”

Gillespie also helped Baylor get through her speech when she was overcome with emotion.

“I’m just so proud of everybody,” Baylor said, as the group wiped tears from their eyes.

Certificates were presented by VHS Director of Education Bryanna Rhodes, instructors Ann Armstrong and Gillespie, Process Improvement Manager Cerissa Atkins, and VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin, who gave opening remarks.

The apprentices, their family members, and VHS team members enjoyed light refreshments in the Square following the ceremony.

Several of the apprentices are going to work at other VHS facilities, including Walter Reed and Lancashire Convalescent and Rehabilitation Centers.

“You’re getting good ones,” Gillespie said.

The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program is ongoing throughout the year, with the next class of CAs starting May 3. Learn more and apply on our Careers page.

VHS aims to grow the program to include apprenticeships for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), pharmacy technicians, and housekeeping and culinary positions.