Working as a CNA can be a rewarding experience, providing a possible test to see if a career in healthcare is a good fit for you. A certified nursing assistant (commonly known as CNA or nursing aide) provides basic services to help patients during their stay at a medical facility.
Working under the supervision of registered nurses, CNAs perform routine maintenance tasks such as cleaning rooms and changing the beds. CNAs are also often responsible for getting the patient’s vital signs, weight, and height measurements.
The job can be physically demanding, so a good work ethic is a necessity.
How To Become A CNA
Once you make the decision to pursue this line of work, set out to find a training program. Many nursing homes provide appropriate training; the Red Cross also offers classes, so contact your local chapter.
Another source of training are tech colleges.
There are more and more small Medical Ed schools popping up nationwide. These schools offer a variety of specialty training programs, one of them being a CNA program.
Costs of such education and training programs tend to vary by region and source. College classes are usually the most expensive, followed by the Medical Ed schools.
One thing to seriously consider when choosing a program is to make sure the program is approved by your state board of nursing or whatever state agency is responsible for approving curriculum. This is important because it does no good to take courses that aren’t approved.
Another serious thing to keep in mind: Stay away from online courses for nursing assistants. While these courses may be good for providing basic knowledge for the job, they are usually not approved by most states.
These courses would benefit somebody who suddenly finds themselves caring for an elderly loved one, but not a person who wants to make a career out of the nursing profession. In order to perform this line of work you need clinical hours in the form of real, hands-on training.
Such experience isn’t available through mail order/online courses.
The Training Process
For the process of training to become a CNA, you can expect anywhere from 3 weeks of full-time classes and clinical hours, to 8 weeks of part-time learning. Expect to be challenged and have your knowledge increased. Some of the topics you can expect to be covered in a CNA course include:
- Patient/resident rights
- Communication skills
- Infection control
- Medical terminology
- Emergencies (Some states require CPR training as part of this)
There is also a lot of reading and many quizzes that will test your knowledge.
Your instructor will assist you with scheduling to take a competency exam administered by your state. You must pass this mandatory exam which is done in two parts: a written portion and a clinical portion.
The written portion is not too difficult but the clinical portion is more challenging. You will be informed on the spot whether you have passed or failed, and if you pass you will receive official certification.