“Virtually all of our students end up working in long-term care. It’s what they want to do,” says Michael Donahue, Associate Director at the International Institute of Minnesota. “The cultures of most societies represented in New American populations so esteem elders. They tell us it would be like taking care of a grandparent.”
As one of the oldest immigrant-serving organizations in the state, the International Institute of Minnesota seeks to equip New Americans with education and training so they can fully integrate and participate in American society. The organization’s Nursing Assistant Training Program recently marked its 27th anniversary, celebrating over 2,500 graduates throughout the program’s history.
“It’s quite extraordinary, actually,” says Donahue. “For the first eight years, we trained about 50 students every year. In 1999, we added a second eight-week long class. Then a few years later, we got enough funding to add a third class. Now, we enroll about 144 students every year.”
The International Institute’s Nursing Assistant Training Program weaves together class instruction and English Language Learner (ELL) support. ELL instructors review vocabulary and key ideas with students throughout the 8-week and 11-week training courses.
“We add a lot of other content that helps our students understand the American workplace, American culture and financial literacy,” Donahue explains. “It really does help with job readiness.” The program also assists students with job applications, mock interviews and computer training.
With an average of 12 students in three different classes every quarter, the International Institute annually places over 100 program graduates at long-term care centers throughout the Twin Cities. In total, the nursing assistant program has placed more than 2,000 students at long-term care centers since its inception in 1990.
Donahue emphasizes that they couldn’t do what they do without their generous donors, including United Way, the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium and grants from the state and others. The Nursing Assistant Training Program also could not happen without long-term care partnerships that provide sites for clinical training or the talent and dedication of the International Institute staff, Donahue says.
To learn more about the International Institute of Minnesota, visit their website.