Congratulations on your decision to start your career as a certified nursing assistant!
Do you possess the inherent passion to care for people, regardless of their age and disabilities? If so, then you could thrive in the health care industry as a certified nursing assistant or CNA.
You are entering a field that is in high demand, so your chances of getting a job and becoming a nursing assistant are more than excellent! Furthermore, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNA jobs are expected to soar by 20 percent in the year 2020.
As you are considering becoming a CNA, then here are the basic things that you need to know on how to become a CNA. Get a quick view of the CNA training requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you. After all, CNA training requirements vary from state to state apart from Federal laws.
What is a CNA?
A CNA is a healthcare professional who perform basic healthcare duties in hospitals and care facilities under the supervision of a licensed vocational nurse or registered nurse. They are also known as orderlies or nursing aides. In most states, aspiring CNAs must complete an approved training program and a competency test.
CNA Job Description
CNAs assist patients with daily activities and while some CNAs tend to have additional responsibilities, such as administering medication, the primary responsibilities of a CNA include:
- Bathe and dress patients
- Serve meals and help patients eat
- Take vital signs of patients
- Turn or re-position patients who are bedridden
- Collect information about conditions and treatment plans from caregivers, nurses and doctors
- Provide and empty bedpans
- Transfer or lift patients into beds, wheelchairs, exam tables, etc.
- Answer patient calls
- Examine patients for bruises, blood in urine or other injuries/wounds
- Apply bandages and support materials as directed by the physician or the nurse
- Clean and sanitize patient areas
- Change bed sheets and restock rooms with necessary supplies
CNAs also serve as a bridge or conduit between patients and nurses and doctors. They also need to record and communicate all issues to medical staff promptly. Depending on work location assigned, other duties of CNAs might include transporting patients to operating rooms or treatment units and setting up equipment at a nurse or doctor’s request.
Aspiring CNAs should clearly understand that the job isn’t glamorous and can be graphic at times. CNAs are often put to the test on a daily basis, from dressing wounds to cleaning a patient after an accident, etc.
CNA Education Overview
Federal and state laws require any aspiring certified nurse assistant to complete an approved post-secondary training program. In order to become a CNA, you need to enroll in a college, hospital, or Red Cross office that offers Certificate Program in Nursing Assistance that include classroom education and a clinical rotation. The training programs are usually inexpensive but will help you gain valuable skills, knowledge and clinical experience. Coursework taken as part of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) degree program may also satisfy CNA training requirements.
Generally, training institutions require applicants who have earned their high school diploma or received qualifying scores on reading and math competency tests. Students also must meet certain health requirements, which may include a tuberculosis screening and submission of proof of vaccinations. Most training institutions also require students to acquire CPR certification before or during the training program.
Even if your state does not require that all nursing assistants complete a training program, federal law do require all aides who work in nursing homes to complete a 75-hour training course and pass a competency exam to receive state certification.
CNA training programs lasts approximately eight weeks. Relevant coursework includes:
- First Aid
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Patient Rights
- Medical Ethics
- Medical Terminology
- Infection Guidelines
- Knowledge of Diseases
Additional knowledge and skills covers pre- and post-operative care procedures, patient hygiene, patient communication and administrative duties.
CNA Certification Requirements
CNA certification requirements vary from state to state. Upon completion of an approved training program, applicants must apply to register as a nurse assistant with their state health department and pass a written competency examination. Students in the process of completing registered nurse (RN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) degree programs may also be able to test for and work as CNAs.
As CNAs are an integral part of the health care entity, the practice comes with specific regulations. Some states may allow nurse assistants to work for a limited time while going through the application and testing process of training program. Nevertheless, a nurse assistant can only be designated a CNA after completing the registration process.
CNA Career Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), majority of CNAs find work in nursing and residential care facilities. Also, the nursing and residential care facilities accounting to the 55% of the entities employing nursing aides.
Alternatively CNAs can also seek for a job in home health care companies; state, private, and local hospitals; and employment services. The states where most certified nursing assistant jobs are offered are California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Also be sure to check out our highly popular CNA jobs board, which is creating new jobs for people like you every single day.
CNA Median Annual Salary
The median annual salary of a certified nursing assistant is $24,010. The top 10 percent of the CNA population earns as much as $34,580, while the lower bracket takes in $17,790 annually.
CNA Training in California
California is a hotbed for nurse aide profession with so many job openings for CNAs which justifies overwhelming number of certified nursing assistant (CNA) training programs in California compared to other states.
CNA training in California involves 160 hours of training consist of 60 hours of classroom work and 100 hours of clinical training. A 16-hour orientation also required for newly employed nursing assistants.
Aspiring CNAs should have a criminal record clearance upon enrolment and required to submit their fingerprints to the Department of Justice for background checks.
Feel free to read our post about CNA training in California for more detailed information.
CNA Training Online
Interested in studying to become a certified nursing assistant but don’t have the time to attend classes? Then the fastest way to start your career in health care, you may want to consider registering for CNA training online. These online programs make it possible for aspiring CNAs to complete their coursework regardless of family responsibilities; work-related obligations, etc.
The things you’ll learn in online CNA classes mainly aimed at helping you pass the written portion of the certification exam. The multiple choice test, comprising fifty questions that test both your knowledge and intuition about your actions in different situations that CNAs are likely to encounter daily in the line of duty.
The best of these web-based training programs still require some clinical experience, because medical professions rely so heavily on interpersonal interaction. Nevertheless, much of the requisite knowledge and skill can be obtained through online courses.
Image Credit: Uckhet on Flickr