Hospital creates training program to fill critical gap

Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 09, 2019

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INDIANAPOLIS — Healthcare is among the sectors seeing immense growth with an aging population. The demand to find workers to provide services is a challenge across the board. To fill its own staffing needs and grow its talent, Franciscan Health created the Patient Care Assistant program also known as PCA.

Sara Bushong is among the first of its employees to trade in an office job to work with patients.

"I can definitely say that is the spark something in me to continue on."

Bushong trained for several weeks to become a PCA at the south side Indianapolis hospital.

Patient Care Assistants provide primary care services to patients from bathing, feeding to getting around the hospital. Advanced training for PCA II level includes various skills including how to start IV’s.

Mary Beth Johnson is the community education manager for Franciscan Health. She’s an RN who says the effort helps identify people within the hospital looking for a new career path while also filling a critical need for the facility in Indianapolis and Mooresville.

“This offers them an opportunity for more education which gives them more skills which in turn they get more money, they have higher wages," said Johnson

The hospital launched the PCA program in 2018 and since then has opened it for the public to apply.

The program consists of two weeks of training which includes class work and hands-on practical instruction in a simulation lab. In addition to that, four weeks are spent in supervised training for various nursing units.

PCA's can eventually use the hospital's tuition reimbursement program to seek for example a nursing license.

"The need is so great not only in this hospital but across the city. This is a stepping stone for people. They say you know what I think I want to go into nursing, or I think I want to go into PT, OT and they use this as a stepping stone,” said Nola McCoy, RN and program coordinator.

Bushong has served the hospital for several years. In middle school, she was a volunteer greeter at the main entrance. Her college degree in equine science did not lead to her dream job---because she says her calling after six weeks of training is working with people.

People interested in becoming PCA’s are required to have a high school diploma or GED plus you must have math and reading skills.

If you’re interested in the program should contact the coordinator, Nola McCoy, MSN, RN, at