CNA Classes will prepare you to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, which is a healthcare professional who works directly with patients. These individuals might also be called home health aides, orderlies, nurses’ aides or patient care technicians, but the job they perform is the same.
CNAs aid patients with their eating, dressing, bathing and performance of everyday activities. They also monitor patient vital signs and general conditions in addition to inquiring about any health concerns. CNA’s then report back to supervising nurses with this information.
Many CNAs go on to become registered nurses later in their careers. To become a CNA, you need some basic training and on the job experience, plus registration with a state organization.
What CNAs Should Be Able To Provide
Certified nursing assistants are the primary caregivers for many patients, especially those in nursing homes and other live-in institutions. This means that they must be able to provide supportive daily care for a wide range of activities.
When CNAs work in a home environment, they may be responsible for some cooking and house cleaning, in addition to assisting patients with their daily lives and medical needs.
A CNA must be physically able enough to support and even lift the patients under his or her care. People in CNA jobs must also be able to interact with patients in a friendly, patient manner, even in frustrating circumstances. They must be capable of providing sympathy and support for both emotional and physical issues.
They must also be knowledgeable about basic medical procedures and be able to report possible problems to a supervising nurse. Certified nursing assistants may have to work long or unusual hours to give their patients what they need, but the job itself can be very rewarding.
CNA Registration Requirements
To register as a certified nursing assistant, everyone must go through a series of CNA classes. This coursework provides the basic training needed to allow CNAs to do their job.
In addition to CNA classes, a prospective nursing assistant must also get hands-on experience under the supervision of a registered nurse, physician, or a more experienced CNA.
Different states have different requirements for the length and type of experience required, but it must occur in a hospital, nursing home or other medical establishment in most cases.
Once you’ve undergone the required coursework and on-the-job training, you can register with your state as an official CNA. Registration is not optional; most employers are required to check the registry before they can formally hire you.
This requirement enables healthcare providers and patients to be sure that their CNAs have the experience needed to do their jobs correctly. It also reduces the risk of falsified certifications or people with past poor performance.
Since CNAs are responsible for the daily well-being of the patients under their care, it’s important to ensure that they will do a good job. In some states, you may be required to submit to a background check and supply fingerprint samples to avoid the risk of employing dangerous people.
Finding CNA Programs
There are plenty of CNA programs and CNA classes available, but for people who already have other jobs, attending them can be difficult. The good news is that many healthcare employers are willing to offer some CNA classes to people who already work for them, either directly or via a partnership with a local school.
If you aren’t eligible for these CNA programs, you may also be able to take classes in the evening after your regular job or online.
If you’ll be traveling for your CNA classes or you decide to attend an online school, you may need to do a little more research than if you’re attending a local school. That’s because not all states have the same certification and accreditation requirements.
Make sure the program you decide on will work with your state’s registry. In the U.S., all CNA programs must offer 75 hours of teaching or more, including the practical experience portion, which usually accounts for about 16 hours.
Maintaining Your CNA Registration
Even if you have had all the CNA classes you need and have already been registered, you’ll still need access to some CNA programs. That’s because most states require you to take another 12 hours of CNA classes each year to keep your education current.
You will also need to maintain a CPR certification at all times and receive updated vaccinations, tuberculosis tests and an annual physical exam to retain your CNA job.
You must also work at least eight hours in a doctor’s office, hospital setting, institution or other healthcare provider over the course of every two years to maintain your registration.
That may not sound like a lot, but many CNA jobs, such as providing home care, don’t count for this purpose. For many people, special work must be scheduled to account for this requirement.
CNA Career Opportunities
Most CNAs make from about $24,000 to $27,000 per year and in some cases up to $43,000 depending on location and situation (see CNA Salary). With extra education, however, a CNA position is an excellent stepping stone to a higher-paying career as a registered nurse or a physician’s assistant.
The CNA field is also growing rapidly as medical costs increase and hospitals use their RNs to perform more specialized tasks. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for CNAs is expected to expand by 20 percent by 2020, especially as more older people need nursing home care.
That makes taking CNA classes a smart, career-savvy move for anyone who wants a rewarding job providing care for others.