How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant
A certified nursing assistant or CNA is a healthcare professional who provides hands-on care to patients in medical settings under the direct supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practitioner nurse (LPN).
This care often involves helping patients with bathing, dressing, and other basic activities involved in their daily lives, but it can also include taking vital signs and performing other medical duties. CNA jobs can provide great entries for those who are interested in a nursing career or other positions within the medical field.
Where Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Work?
A certified nursing assistant can work in a variety of settings, but most CNA jobs are found in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. They may also be employed by private doctor's offices, urgent care clinics, and community clinics. CNAs are also often employed as home health aides where they care for patients in their own homes.
Some of the duties of a certified nursing assistant include:
CNAs work under the supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed nurse practitioner. They often assist the nursing staff in their duties, which can include gathering and preparing supplies, administering certain medications, and preparing rooms for new patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Many CNAs go on to nursing school to become RNs or LPNs themselves.
The job outlook for CNAs is also great. The baby boomer generation is getting older, and more of them are entering assisted living and nursing facilities. They will need CNAs and other nursing staff to help care for them either in their homes or in medical facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate of CNAs over the next decade is estimated to be at nine percent. Meanwhile, there was a surge of over 1 million jobs in this field in 2018 alone.
How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant
Unlike RNs and LPNs, you don't need a college degree to become a certified nursing assistant. You do need training though, which will result in a postsecondary non-degree certificate. CNA credentials are issues at the state level, and each state has its own requirements. You'll need to look up the certification requirements to become a CNA in your own state, but there are some general requirements that will be the same no matter where you are.
Individuals who are interested in becoming CNAs need to have earned a high school diploma or GED and have received nursing assistant training. This training is available from community colleges, trade schools, and medical facilities across the country. These programs last between four and 12 weeks, and they must be approved by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission, or the NLNAC.
Once you've completed an accredited training program, your next step is to pass a CNA certification exam. This exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam is multiple choice and is taken in a group setting. You have 90 minutes to answer all of the questions and complete the exam. The practical exam tests your ability to complete the duties required of a certified nursing assistant. It is administered individually and is observed by a single proctor or observer. During this part of the exam, you'll be asked to demonstrate your ability to complete four clinical tasks chosen at random. You'll have 30 minutes to complete this section.
Remember that each state has its own certification requirements when it comes to becoming a CNA. The training program and the exam might be a little different depending on where you are located, but the basic process of becoming a CNA is largely the same throughout the United States. Check out the certification requirements for your state for more information about getting started as a certified nursing assistant.
Although CNA jobs can be considered entry-level positions in the medical field, they can provide excellent opportunities for those who are interested in the medical field. It only requires training over a period of months as opposed to a college degree, and it can give you a better idea of what you can expect if you are considering continuing your education and becoming a nurse. There are also plenty of CNA jobs available in a number of settings, and the number of jobs will likely increase as the boomer generation continues to age.
If you are interested in becoming a CNA yourself, check out any technical schools or community colleges near you. There are almost certainly some CNA training programs available.