Over the next ten years, the overall employment of nursing assistant positions is United States, the demand for nurses’ aide roles will continue to climb. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a fast-paced job. It involves non-invasive responsibilities focusing on the patient’s daily routines. A nursing assistant helps medical professionals with routine tasks, including taking vital signs, exercising and cleaning patients, and monitoring dietary restrictions.. This is double the national average. With an aging population in the
Becoming a CNA is a great alternative if you want to get into the medical field but do not want to spend excess time and money in school. For those who want to get a jump-start helping people and making a difference, this may be the career path for you. Keep reading to learn more about the role of a CNA and a step-by-step guide to obtaining certification for yourself.
How Do I Become a CNA?
Before you can call yourself a certified nursing assistant, there are a few steps to take. They can be completed at any stage of life, making this a good opportunity for any age group or experience level.
Step 1: High School Diploma/GED
Various classes may benefit your eventual nurses’ aide program if you still complete this. Examples of these courses include:
- First aid
If possible, try to speak with your school or program’s guidance counselor for the best advice on which courses to take ahead of time.
Step 2: Complete a CNA Program
When looking for a CNA education program, look for a respected.
The actual certification standards will vary by state. But in any location, be sure to select an accredited program. This way, you will not have difficulty finding a job post-graduation.
It is usually not difficult to find a course. Various medical academy settings churn out these courses multiple times yearly, making any schedule possible.
During this program, you will take various classes that will translate into real-world skills. These could include:
- Basic patient care
- Patient safety
- Emergency medicine
- CPR/other life support
- Checking vital signs
- Moving patients
- Infection control
- Feeding techniques
- Communication with patients and family
- Documentation skills
- Long-term care techniques
- Preventing workplace injury
These courses typically go from four to 12 weeks. If you’d rather, some programs go more in-depth and span up to six months. It’s important to note that both length programs would result in the same amount of credits.
Step 3: Take the Nursing Assistant Certification Exam
This test assesses clinical and practical knowledge to culminate everything you have learned in your CNA program. Testing you on skills you must know to succeed in this field proves you are up to the profession’s standards before entering the workforce.
Some areas that may be on the test include:
- The role of a CNA
- Infection control
- Personal care
- Data collection
- Patient’s rights
- Communication skills
- Disease processes
The test measures theoretical concepts and practical skills in two parts.
The first part is a multiple-choice section. Usually, this is 70 to 75 questions taken over 90 minutes to two hours. Examples of topics covered on this exam could be:
- Using a catheter
- Mobility aids
- Mental illness
- Disease symptoms
After this is a manual skills test, you perform five tasks to demonstrate competency with various hands-on skills; these skills may be:
- Hand washing
- Bedpan handling
- Denture care
- Patient bathing/grooming
- Interacting with patients
- Mental illness response
You will generally need at least 75 hours of classroom and practical experience in a state-approved facility to qualify for this exam.
Step 4: Certification Application
Again, the exact CNA process will vary based on state law. In most cases, you must complete a certification application to the state nursing board after passing the exam.
This has a few components—a background check, transcripts, and an application fee.
After completing the above steps, you will be eligible for employment as a CNA. There are nursing assistant positions in a variety of healthcare facilities. You may seek a job in a hospital, medical clinic, hospice program, home health agency, or urgent care center.
The actual job responsibilities will range based on the type of environment you work in. Typically, you work under the supervision of the registered nurses on staff.
You must complete a CNA certification renewal every so often to keep your skills and knowledge current.
The exact time frame varies by state. But you may have to continue to stay on top of your education and recertify as a nurses’ aide. This usually has a minimum number of work hours associated with it.
If you move states and want to continue working as a nursing assistant, you must transfer your certification. This is not difficult; you usually do not have to retake the course or exam.
If you plan to practice in a new state, you must first apply to begin the certification transfer process. This will include supporting materials: proof of education, employment history, copies of current CNA license, driver’s license, and social security card.
It would help if you also alerted the nursing board of your current state that you no longer practice in that area.
Investing in Your Future
If you want a jump start in the medical field, consider becoming a CNA. Though a few steps and a minor time commitment are involved, this can lead you down the path of a gratifying career. Check out our other articles for more employment and education advice! Keep in mind your education is an investment in your future.