Good health is an essential need of everyone today, especially as the general population continues to age. As per stats, the US health industry stood at $8.45 trillion in 2018 and is expected to witness a boost of $808 billion by 2021.

These stats prove that there are many options for newbies when it comes to making a career in healthcare; whether that is straight after high school or after years of experience in a different job role. One of the most rewarding options is becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant).

For those people who are willing to make a CNA, we will help you out. But, first, let’s see who a CNA is?

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Certified Nursing Assistants are individuals who provide healthcare services in various care facilities. Mostly, they work under the guidance of professional nurses such as Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). CNAs work in a variety of different healthcare facilities such as assisted living centres, care homes, hospitals and residential facilities.

There is a wide range of duties carried out by nursing assistants such as:

  • Dressing the patients
  • Taking vital such as blood pressure and heart rate
  • Feeding patients food and drinks along with documenting their intake.
  • Cleaning rooms and bedpans
  • Bathing the patients
  • Gathering the healthcare supplies
  • Turning and moving the patients in bed or onto a wheelchair
  • Answering the calls of the patients
  • Infection Control

In short, a certified nursing assistant CNA is responsible for assisting their senior registered nurse in all the activities that are required to be carried out in terms of providing a medically safe and healthy environment to the patients, especially those who are bedridden and cannot take care of themselves, or may have conditions affecting their mental and physical abilities.

What is the Process of Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Entry Requirements

One of the initial steps to becoming a CNA (certified nursing assistant) is to fulfil the necessary education requirements. To be a successful nursing assistant, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED).

Certification Training Programs

Further, you need to pass a state-approved certified nursing assistant training program that provides hands-on experience and training in various healthcare areas such as mental health, long-term care, geriatrics, and pediatric care.

Organizations that offer CNA training programs

  • American Red Cross
  • Community College
  • High schools
  • Vocational or technical schools
  • Local hospitals

If you are considering taking up an accredited CNA program to become a certified nursing assistant, ensure that the programs are approved by your state’s board of nursing and the Department of Health. Also, keep in mind the courses that you should take in CNA training programs. The programs may differ a bit from each other. How?

First off, these programs are available as in-person classes or online classes and so are available to anyone with any schedule. If you are planning to take an in-person class, make sure that the program is provided at a location near your place.

The American Red Cross runs a certified nursing assistant training program that provides in-person classes. This training program takes around 4-8 weeks to complete and has some prerequisites.

  • You need to complete the TB Test and Red Cross Physical form.
  • It is necessary to be clean in the Red Cross criminal background check before registration.
  • You should have attended an orientation information session.
  • You should have a High School diploma or GED.

Other than offline in-person classes, there is a more convenient way: an online certified nursing assistant training program.

These programs are offered by many organizations like vocational schools, community colleges, etc. They are way more convenient to students as they can study from their home with hours that suit them.

While you may be able to obtain your CNA certification quicker, there is concern that those graduating from online programs are not gaining the same knowledge and skills as a graduate of an in-classroom program.

The in-person or hands-on skill elements of the course help students be prepared for actually working with patients as well. They enhance the clinical skills or nursing skills of the candidates.

The average coursework for most online classes ranges between 4 or 12 weeks, depending on the class schedule. They are composed of classroom time and clinical training hours. Each state requires a certain number of clinician hours to be completed before applying for certification.

Once you successfully complete a state-approved certified nursing assistant training program, you will have to clear the competency exam or the certification exam. This exam primarily consists of two parts, namely, the written part and the practical part.

Written Exam

The written exam will be taken in a group setting and typically consists of multiple-choice questions. Candidates have around 90 minutes to answer all the questions.

Clinical skills test

The second part, where hands-on skills are tested, is undertaken one candidate at a time. Only one test observer is there in this exam. The overall time allowed for this section is around 30 minutes.

When the candidate has completed and scored well in both exams, they can apply for jobs. A certificate of completion or equivalency degree will be issued. The name of the nursing assistant is also entered in the state registry.

Career Progression

You must know that being a Nurse Assistant is not the final goal. So, getting yourself will help you secure better job openings and pay scales in the future.

Where does a CNA work?

CNAs are employed in various healthcare organizations, such as:

  • Home care agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Long-term residential facilities
  • Adult daycare centres
  • Rehabilitation centres

Common daily duties for certified nursing assistants

Home nurse aide performs tasks such as bathing patients, feeding them, lifting them, or moving their limbs. They monitor the patient’s blood pressure and other vital signs and assist with specialized treatment programs that the doctor may prescribe.

Hospital Nursing Assistants work in hospitals. They are help nurses, but they should not replace a nurse who uses health care equipment or administers medications.

Adult care facilities and nursing homes are the most common places where nursing assistants are required.

What qualities does a CNA have?

CNAs are medical professionals who have to interact with other people daily. They need to possess various qualities to do the best in their job.

Top CNA qualities for a successful CNA career

Compassionate:

  • Being a CNA, you have to be compassionate towards people and believe that you are doing the right thing. You should enjoy helping others in the time of need.

Friendly:

  • Be friendly and talk to patients without feeling uncomfortable. You have to be focused on what you are doing at all times and ensure that the patients are safe before moving them.

Physically Strong:

  • A CNA’s job requires a lot of physical strength and endurance. They have to lift patients, push them in wheelchairs or bedpans for providing first aid. You should be physically strong enough for the same.

Patient:

  • Be patient with the patients and their families. You will encounter scenarios where you have to deal with angry relatives or elderly people who may not want to cooperate with you at times. You should not let this affect your work in any way and continue doing your job well.

Good Communication:

  • Always communicate properly with other members of your team and use proper body language while talking to patients or family members of the patient. Showing empathy is a very important quality that CNAs need while working as nursing aides.

Reliability:

  • Be reliable. Most patients depend on you, so try to finish your work before time and let the doctors know about any impending delays in advance.

Time management:

  • If you are taking care of multiple patients, it is imperative for you to manage your time efficiently and finish the work before the stipulated schedule.

CNAs have to work under pressure because they never know when patient care is required during an emergency situation such as an internal bleeding incident or while having seizures. Being calm, cool, and collected helps CNAs save lives in such situations.

They should aspire to earn more knowledge about medical treatments so that they can provide better services and take good care of the patients.

How much does a CNA earn?

Average yearly CNA salary and benefits

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics says that . Other than that, you may also get great add-on benefits if you work full-time, including paid vacation, holidays, medical insurance, and a 401(k) plan.

The pay of a CNA is not just limited to the mentioned figure. CNAs who work in government hospitals earn over $37,000 per year. However, this number falls to $29,000 if you work in home health care services.

Part-time workers often get prorated benefits, but some places also offer tuition reimbursement or child care credits.

Shifts

Nursing assistants have the opportunity to work on a variety of schedules sucha as day shifts, night shifts, weekends and bank holidays. which vary greatly based on what is best for their employer.

A nurse assistant can choose their shifts throughout the week, or choose to set a dedicated number of hours each week to earn an annual salary.

Some certified nursing assistants are also able to find employment via a healthcare hiring agency – this allows more freedom in choosing you shifts and schedule and could potentially offer a higher pay than being hired directly by a care facility.

Discussing Income Potential

Though most nurses need to talk about overtime pay with hiring committees before any decisions are made! Income potentials depend largely upon where you’ll be working in terms of hospital needs as well as your contract offer; many places also provide opportunities like medical benefits or retirement packages, so it pays off when looking around at all options first!

New York, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and many others are among the top-paying cities for CNAs in the US.

Final Thoughts

The demand for CNAs is booming worldwide and more certified nursing assistants are being sought after to fill these roles. If you are aspiring to build a successful career in the medical field, becoming a CNA is a perfect choice. However, ensure that you fulfil all the necessary requirements before taking up any CNA training program, and are aware of any financial and time commitments. Good luck!