Member Spotlight: Nkechi Odigwe

Member Spotlight: Nkechi Odigwe

A banner featuring Nkechi Odigwe's picture next to text that reads "Our Members Say it Best!"

Nkechi Odigwe, currently an on-call CNA at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, is unafraid to reach for her dreams. 

Two years ago, Nkechi was a Nutrition Assistant at Multicare Auburn. She wanted to work toward being a nurse, but knew that there were many obstacles: prerequisites, tests, program costs, applications, and more. 

So she reached out to the Training Fund, which she had heard about from her co-workers. After talking through her career options with a Training Fund staff member, Nkechi enrolled in prerequisite courses at Highline College.  

She also found the Training Fund’s tutoring service for the TEAS exam very helpful. Nkechi notes that the Training Fund “supported me during my nursing prerequisite classes and when I wanted to take my TEAS exam [with] workshops, online tutors, and study books.” 

Nkechi’s Training Fund navigator Joshua Porter (now the Training Fund’s Director of Labor/Management Programs) encouraged her to reach out to local nursing schools for admission. Pretty soon, Nkechi applied and had offers from multiple schools. Joshua helped Nkechi, she says, by “going through my personal statement, resume and cover letter before I submitted it.” Nkechi also got a letter of recommendation from the Training Fund for her nursing residency. 

Nkechi will graduate from Pierce College’s ADN program this spring! After preparing for and passing her NCLEX exam, Nkechi will then work toward her BSN through UW­­-Tacoma’s RN-to-BSN program. 

Training Fund navigators make it easy for members to clarify questions and achieve their goals. Nkechi writes, “The advice and guidance from [Porter] was very helpful. Anytime that I am confused on what to do and call him, he will get back to me without delay.” 

Nkechi wants her coworkers to know that the Training Fund can help them, too: “The Training Fund will help them to advance in their career as they are working and achieve their goal in life. All the assistance and support that they need for their education dream can come from the Training Fund.” 

Contact us today to find out how you can achieve your career and education goals through your Training Fund benefits!

From High School to NA-C: Narielle Mendoza

From High School to NA-C: Narielle Mendoza

As a high school senior, Narielle Mendoza has a busy schedule: classes, tests, extracurriculars. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a Nursing Assistant-Certified (NA-C) earlier this year with the Health Care Apprenticeship Consortium (HCAC).

In collaboration with Tacoma Public Schools, HCAC now offers an innovative NA-C training program for high school students. As the healthcare needs of the state grow, so too does the need for trained healthcare workers. HCAC’s NA-C training program offers a roadmap to filling that need.

Through the program, Narielle learned the ins and outs of life as an NA-C by taking part in classroom work and in-person labs. She even did her clinicals at Multicare Tacoma, shadowing nurses there and putting her skills to the test: “I actually got to use that information [from class and labs] and expand on my knowledge…[It was rewarding] seeing patients in real life and seeing nurses and doctors and other health care professionals. It was truly amazing and inspiring and I got the greatest experience from that.”

Narielle is passionate about helping others live their best, healthiest lives. The NA-C training program’s staff ensured that her passion was met with expert guidance. Narielle credits the instructors: “The teachers, nurses, and the people leading the program were all so friendly and engaging. They welcomed my curiosity and made me excited to have a healthcare career.” 

Narielle had family support along the way, too. Her father, himself a CNA, offered her constant encouragement and guidance. They bonded over her experience in the NA-C program: “He loves healthcare as much as I do and is always inspiring me to see how much you can make a difference to help people who need care.” Narielle’s father gave her some timeless advice, too: learn from your mistakes.

Now, Narielle is set on finishing out her senior year of high school before college begins. She plans to spend this summer working at a nursing home, where she will put her NA-C skills to use: in her words, she will “assist in taking vital signs and measurements such as urine, weight, and blood pressure; feeding; dressing; cleaning; hygiene care; and assisting in exercise.”

With ambitions of becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon, Narielle’s journey is just beginning. Through the HCAC’s NA-C training program and Tacoma Public Schools, she has taken a big step toward living out her dreams. To all the prospective NA-C program applicants, Narielle offers these wise words: “It might be a tough journey to reach your goals, but keep going because you will be proud that you conquered so much. Your next journey is even more fulfilling for people looking up to you to save their lives!”

Looking Ahead: Letter from ED Laura Hopkins

Looking Ahead: Letter from ED Laura Hopkins

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope that you’re having a good start to the year. I’m very proud of what we’ve all accomplished together in 2022 and am looking ahead to serving even more healthcare workers in 2023. 

We are so excited that we were able to fund ALL members who applied for Tuition Assistance by the October 15, 2022, deadline! And we even had remaining funding to cover some members who applied after the deadline. In total, more than 600 eligible members were funded to go back to school in 2022 – this is in addition to those who are already enrolled and working hard to complete their programs. We hope even more members apply for Tuition Assistance this year to take advantage of this valuable life-changing opportunity to advance their careers.  

A warm welcome to our newest members from Providence St. Peter Hospital, Neighborcare Health, and St. Clare Hospital (Virginia Mason Franciscan Health), all of whom joined the Training Fund in 2022. This brings us to nearly 20 employers who partner with the Training Fund and SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and we now have 17,000 members! Watch our welcome video to learn more about the Training Fund. 

We are committed to diversity and equity in everything that we do to promote a healthcare workforce that looks like and represents our communities. 

Thank you for your hard work – we appreciate you and recognize that these are extremely challenging times. Together with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and our employer partners, we are honored to support you and help you achieve your career and education goals. 

– Laura Hopkins, Executive Director, the Training Fund 

Member Spotlight: Alex’s Story

Member Spotlight: Alex’s Story

Alex Knox, a nursing assistant at MultiCare Deaconess, plans to be in school for a long time. Currently taking classes to become a licensed nurse, Alex dreams of going “all the way” to get his Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). And the Training Fund is an integral part of his plan! 

Alex first heard about the Training Fund at his general orientation at MultiCare. Although he was already in school for nursing prerequisites, he wasn’t yet taking advantage of the Training Fund. All that changed after he met Joshua Porter, then an Education Navigator and currently the Training Fund’s Director of Labor Management Programs. Joshua helped him prepare for the TEAS nursing school entry exam. “I learned more about the Training Fund and the benefits of having this extra money to help through school,” says Alex. “I didn’t want taking out loans to be my only option.” 

Beyond Tuition Assistance, the Training Fund also provided Knox with resources to prepare for his nursing exam: “I was able to prepare for the TEAS, I was given prep materials for the TEAS, I even think I had the TEAS paid for—all reimbursed after passing. Without it, I would’ve been more strapped for cash, so it was great to have that extra help.” The Training Fund, Knox affirms, “helped get me the resources that allowed me to study effectively and that I wouldn’t be able to pay for on my own.” (Learn more about how the Training Fund can support your TEAS preparation here.)

The Training Fund reimburses LPN members up to $300 for specialty certifications and membership in some professional organizations. And Alex has also benefited from the Professional Development opportunities provided by the Training Fund. “I’ve actually also taken advantage of educational benefits,” he says. “I was able to do a training and take a board certification, and I got reimbursed from the Training Fund for that certification .”  

Knox credits Joshua Porter and Diane Sosne, outgoing SEIU1199 NW Healthcare president, as inspirations on his healthcare journey. Knox says, “Joshua supported me and was always there cheering me on, making sure I was connected to resources.” He credits Sosne with being a “beacon.” “I already knew I wanted to be a nurse,” he says, “but she helped ignite a passion.” 

With plans to continue on the path toward a DNP and work in public health, Knox hopes to continue working for a union employer so that he can continue to access the Training Fund’s benefits and services. He also encourages others to take advantage of this unique resource: “There are lots of people who are looking for advancement and who want to climb the ladder. But it’s so difficult working our job and it’s hard to be connected to the resources. It’s so helpful that there’s really one place that you can go to, like the Training Fund, for your continuing education and career needs.” 



First Cohort Completes ACET Program!

First Cohort Completes ACET Program!

The first ACET cohort poses for a photo, alongside Training Fund staff and ACET program leaders.

The first six participants of the ACET program alongside Training Fund staff and ACET program leaders.

On Thursday, December 1, the first six participants in the Training Fund’s new Advanced Certification for EVS Technicians (ACET) program passed their final exams!

ACET is a healthcare industry-informed 24-hour EVS professional training program that combines interactive online learning and examination with onsite training and assessment. The program supports EVS Techs in learning new skills and possibly earning a raise.

ACET is one of the many labor-management initiatives that the Training Fund has collaborated on to build a stronger, more committed healthcare workforce. Joshua Porter, Director of Labor Management Programs, had this to say about the first ACET cohort:

Building healthier communities benefits us all! Quality healthcare relies upon highly-skilled environmental service professionals, keeping our health system staff and patients safe as they deliver and receive critical care. The Training Fund is honored to announce 100% of our inaugural Advanced Certification for EVS Technicians course participants passed their final exams, earning their new ACET certifications. Join us in celebrating these incredible professionals, who strengthen our healthcare community!

As successful participants of the program, these ACET-certified EVS Techs demonstrated competence in the following areas:

      • Promoting a culture of safety
      • Infection prevention
      • Tools & equipment
      • Waste handling
      • Green training
      • Team & patient engagement

Learn more about the ACET program by watching the video below, and visit the ACET program page to learn more.