How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

To become a certified nurse assistant (CNA), one usually needs a high school diploma and the necessary training. The training to become a CNA may be offered through training or vocational schools, community colleges, and sometimes high schools or the care facilities themselves. The training consists of 75 hours of training that is state-approved, and there is a competency evaluation. Once the program and exam are completed, an aide becomes a certified nurse assistant.

CNA Job Description and Duties

A certified nurse assistant can work in a residential care facility, outpatient clinic, home setting, or hospital. They usually work under the supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse, and often provide care for patients who are ill, injured, infirm, or otherwise need long-term care. They help care for a patient in many ways. Duties might include taking vital signs, assisting medical staff with procedures, or feeding, dressing, serving food, keeping their room clean, and assisting with communication and observing the patient’s condition. In hospitals they are often assigned tasks that are less desirable for registered nurses and other staff. However, they also have the chance to work with patients over a long-term basis and develop a more personal work relationship with them.

CNA Salary and Job Outlook

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and there are projected shortages for all levels of nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were about 1.4 million nursing aide jobs in 2006, of which about half worked in residential care facilities, and another 29% worked in hospitals. According to BLS, nursing aides and health aides are projected to grow 26% before 2016, which is much faster than the average occupational growth. Additionally, due to hospitals cutting costs and discharging patients sooner, as well as boosts in technology, there will be a need for more aides in residential care facilities and nursing homes than in hospitals.

The median hourly wage for a nursing aide in 2006 was $10.67. The highest ten percent earned over $14.99 an hour. Many hospitals and nursing care facilities offer benefits, some paid holidays, sick leave, and some paid vacation after a year or more of service. While the pay is modest, the entry requirements are also low and this can provide a great entry into the healthcare workforce.

Many CNAs go back to school to become Registered Nurses. The clinical experience they gain while working as a CNA proves invaluable. Read an interview with a CNA and currrent RN student, CNA to RN to learn more about the CNA profession as a pathway to a becoming a Registered Nurse as well as gain a more real world perspective on the CNA profession.

Certified Nursing Assistant Programs

If you are looking for an online program, there are a number of health care related degree program options to consider as they can lead to a variety of health care career opportunities. If you are interested in CNA programs in your state check out the CNA programs by state resource. Request information from the schools that interest you most to get started on your way to becoming a CNA..

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