About 1,600 nurses aides who work in Utah's nursing homes will be required to become certified during the next seven months, under a new federally mandated system.

Jack Shell, director of the Davis Area Vocational Center, said that the health-care workers will have to be tested and receive a mandatory 80-hour training program before July 1. The center has received $105,000 in state and federal funding to maintain a registry of nurses aides and administer certification tests throughout the state."The federal government is trying to improve the quality of nursing care at nursing homes. By upgrading the training and wages of nurses aides it is hoped that our senior citizens will receive much better care," Shell said.

The registry program, which will include hiring a full-time coordinator, will be administered by the Department of Social Services through the center. Nurses aides can take certification tests at nine testing centers in the state's area vocational centers and community colleges. The mandatory 80-hour training program will also be offered through the institutions.

Information about the certification program is available from local nursing homes, vocational centers and community colleges, Shell said.