What is a CNA
A certified nursing assistant is a person who is trained to look after patients in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. A CNA can also be referred to as a Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC), State Tested Nurse (STNA) Aide, Nursing Assistant (NA), or Patient Care Assistant. Certified nursing assistants work under the supervision of LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) or a Registered Nurse (RN). Legally, CNAs can only help registered nurses to look after patients. They are not allowed to diagnose, treat or administer any type of treatment.
CNA Job Description
Certified Nursing Assistants are instrumental in the proper running of healthcare facilities. Without them doctors and nurses would not be able to efficiently discharge their duties. They ensure that patients, their bedding and clothing are clean at all times. They also clean patient areas to create a sterile environment. They communicate healthcare data to all staff members to ensure that each and every one of them is up to date with any changes. They record observations of physical symptoms, patient behavior and complaints. They also help in the retrieval and sorting of medical supplies and equipment. When new staff members join a healthcare facility, these aides are normally the ones who help with their orientation. When in contact with patients or their families, CNAs normally offer the much needed emotional support. All said and done, CNAs normally do the heavy lifting when it comes to patient care in a healthcare facility or at home.
How to Become a CNA
The first step towards becoming a certified nursing assistant is getting a GED or high school diploma. The second step is to find an accredited CNA training program. The good news is that most hospitals offer CNA training. CNA classes are also offered at local community colleges as well as the Red Cross. This means that a person can find the right CNA program easily. People who are already employed in other fields can sign up for CNA online classes with reputable online schools. The third step is to register for classes and pay the required course fee. People who may not be able to pay the required fee can ask for financial aid. The good news is that most schools offer financial aid to needy students. After completion of the course, which normally takes 6 to 12 weeks, prospective candidates will have to sit the CNA exam. The final step is writing a resume, sending job application letters to potential employers and going for interviews.
CNA Training Program Prerequisites
People who wish to join a CNA training program must be prepared to fulfill some basic requirements. For instance, all prospective candidates must produce proof of all the immunizations they have received in recent years. Each prospective candidate will also be subjected to a criminal background check. A good grasp of the English language, both written and spoken, is a requirement. Some schools will also ask prospective candidates to produce their original SSN card, proof of a valid signature and an identification document bearing a photo of the applicant. Successful applicants must carry the following items when they report for classes:
- A watch
- Nurse’s aide supply kit
- Nurse’s aide uniform patch
- Handbook and workbook
- Medical scrubs with two front pockets
- Comfortable white walking shoes
Some of the contents of a nurse’s aide supply kit include gloves, blood pressure cuffs and a stethoscope. The training program prerequisites may vary from school to school. It is therefore important for prospective candidates to contact their preferred school for a complete set of prerequisites.
CNA Classes and What They Cost
After completion of CNA classes, the student should be able to take vital signs, ensure patient safety, assist patients with their daily activities, document and report physical symptoms and patient behavior, communicate effectively, administer CPR and basic life support, contain and prevent infections from spreading, and maintain hygienic conditions in patient areas. The state ensures that all the instructors overseeing CNA classes are qualified. It is important to note that all instructors must be registered nurses. The cost of CNA classes varies from school to school. However, most programs cost anywhere between $300 to $1250. Of course, there are some programs that charge more than this. The total cost might be a little bit higher when the cost of buying books is considered. Some schools can train several batches of students per calendar year. These classes are normally compressed to ensure that students complete the entire course within three to four weeks.
CNA Classes Online
It is possible to get CNA training online. There are many online programs that are accredited and can lead to CNA certification. However, online training is not enough. Students who are taking online courses are required to have numerous hours of hands-on experience working in a healthcare facility. Students are required to have on-site training totaling 75 hours in order to qualify for the state exam. Online classes only offer the theory part of learning and students should only expect to learn medical terminology and shorthand. It is during the on-site training sessions that students get to experience first hand what a certified nursing assistant does. Ideally, prospective candidates should sign up for online training with online schools that have arrangements with healthcare facilities for on-site training of their students. Online courses are great for people who would like to join the medical field but are too busy to attend regular classes. They are convenient because students get to choose when they want to study and for how long.
CNA Certification Requirements
The state regulates the certification of CNAs. Below are the requirements for certification:
- 75 hrs on site training
- Physical exam to check for contagious diseases like TB
- Completion of an approved training program
- Passing the written exam administered by the state
- Competency evaluations
The minimum requirements differ from state to state. CNA certification is meant to assure patients and employers that they are dealing with a competent individual. The certification also boosts the confidence of the CNAs; this enhances their ability to carry out their duties effectively.