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  • Writer's pictureBy Pacific Island Times News Staff

18 new certified nursing assistants to boost Guam's health care support

Students of the Nursing Assistant Education Program perform a training exercise at the University of Guam School of Health skills lab on Aug. 16 prior to beginning paid apprenticeships at Guam Memorial Hospital, Guam Regional Medical City, or Health Services of the Pacific. Photo courtesy of the University of Guam

Guam will soon have 18 more certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, as a third cohort completes the Nursing Assistant Education Program through the University of Guam School of Health, the UOG Global Learning and Engagement Department and the Guam Department of Labor.

The students have completed caregiver training and are now beginning paid apprenticeships at Guam Regional Medical City, Health Services of the Pacific, and, for the first time in the program, the Guam Memorial Hospital.

“This is the first time a government agency has had CNA apprentices, so it’s quite groundbreaking,” said Margaret Hattori-Uchima, dean of UOG School of Health.

Launched in February 2019, the Nursing Assistant Education Program was created specifically for workforce development.

“With the growing demand for CNAs in Guam, the program is meant to provide career growth opportunities for the community and help fill vacancies for essential health care professionals,” Hattori-Uchima said.

The UOG School of Health has trained 41 CNAs since the start of the pandemic and 81 CNAs since the program’s inception. The CNAs who completed the previous apprenticeship programs are working for GRMC, Health Services of the Pacific, GMH and Catholic Social Service.

CNAs work under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse preparing rooms and supplies, assisting with tests and procedures, and directly assisting patients. Unlike caregivers, CNAs must undergo a set number of classroom and clinical training hours and then pass both a written and skills exam.

The three-month program begins with pre-apprenticeship training for mental health, first aid, communication, confidentiality, and other skills necessary for employment. Students then complete 120 hours of theory, skills lab, and clinical training and a paid apprenticeship at one of the program’s participating employers, where they are then guaranteed employment upon passing the CNA exam and becoming officially certified.

“Welcoming the CNA apprentices to GMHA for the first time is such an exciting honor for us,” said Lillian Perez-Posadas, CEO for GMHA. “We’re thrilled to be a part of their educational journey. Being the community’s trusted public hospital, GMHA will provide these CNAs with incredible hands-on experience with a variety of patients from all walks of life. We know this will undoubtedly shape them into compassionate nurse assistants, dedicated to excellence in health care.”


The cost of the students’ tuition, uniforms, books, clearances and physical exams is covered through the Guam Department of Labor via the State Apprenticeship Expansion grant, a $1.7 million grant to increase registered apprentices in Guam within allied health, telecommunications, construction, and hospitality.

Partial funding is also provided by the Guam/Micronesia Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program at the UOG School of Health, which is funded by a grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of an award totaling $749,538 with zero percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. government. (UOG)

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