What Is A CNA?
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) work with nurses and medical professionals in the daily care of patients.
They play a key role in most health care teams.
Also known as Nursing Assistants (NAs), State Tested Nurse Aides (STNAs) or Patient Care Assistants (PCAs), CNAs provide assistance to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs).
Why Become A CNA?
A career as a Certified Nursing Assistant offers a lot of stability. It is one of the few recession proof jobs currently available and there is a huge demand for CNAs across the country. CNAs are often found in facilities such as clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices.
It is a very popular career because it offers a wide range of benefits and you can train to be a CNA in a matter of weeks. Also, CNAs stand a better chance of being accepted into nursing school if they want to become an LPN or RN.
Of course, being a CNA is also a personally rewarding career too, as you are making a positive contribution to helping others and improving their quality of life. As the famous quote by Carrie Latet says, “Nurses are the hospitality of the hospital.” The same is also true of CNAs, naturally. (Quote courtesy of Quotes & Sayings)
How Do I Become A CNA?
To be employed as a CNA, you will need to have successfully undergone a recognized CNA certification training program and earned a state-issued CNA certification.
There are different paths that you can use in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant.
You can choose to enroll for a training program at a skilled nursing facility. This will give you the experience and required practical training required for a license application.
Another method is to enroll for a nurse aid course. These are often hosted by specialized schools and community colleges.
Depending on the location and the state you are in, you can also consider the option of an online CNA certification training program. During an online training program, you will be taught the different theoretical concepts required of a practicing CNA.
However, in addition to your online course, you will still be expected to practice in a real setting under the guidance of licensed nurse.
Once you’ve decided on your preferred path, you’ll need to take steps towards learning more about the entry requirements. Most schools require that applicants possess a minimum of a high school diploma. Some states may have unique requirements such as being able to understand or speak Spanish.
CNA Certification Training
To complete the CNA certification training, you will be required to complete a minimum of 200 to 230 coursework hours. Depending on if you choose a full or part time program, your CNA training may take anywhere from 2 to 16 weeks to complete.
CNA courses are designed to teach you how to assist nurses and doctors in the medical environment. This includes training on practical skills alongside workplace ethics.
Some of the courses that you will take during your training include courses on Nutrition, Dementia, Anatomy, Blood testing, Medical terminology and body mechanics. At the end of your training, you are expected to be familiar with the skills of a CNA. Some of which include;
- How to check for vital signs
- Different feeding techniques for patients – depending on their condition
- How to communicate with patients and members of their family
- How to ensure the safety of patients
- Ways of preventing injury in the work place
- Provision of basic care to individuals of different ages
- Proper hygiene skills
- How to administer CPR and life support
- How to move patients
To qualify for certification, you must have successfully completed an approved nurse aid training program.
You will also be expected to sit for and pass the state licensing exam. This is made up of a written examination where you are tested on your knowledge, and practical examinations which test your skill during clinical. You will be expected to pass BOTH exams.
You can improve the outcome of your exam by taking the time to study before your examination. There are sites online that offer mock questions that you can use to familiarize yourself with the certification exam.
If you successfully pass the examination, you will be given the license to practice as a certified nursing assistant. You will then be added to the Nurse Aide Registry and allowed to work anywhere within the state.