Certified Nursing Assistant Education: CNA Training & The CNA Position

Getting a nursing assistant education is your ticket to becoming a certified nursing assistant, or CNA. This article will help you understand more about what exactly the duties of a CNA are, how to go about obtaining CNA training to earn a nursing assistant degree, whether being a nurse’s assistant is the right path to take for the career you have in mind, and what the immediate future holds for a CNA.

Basic Duties of the CNA

What exactly does the job of a certified nursing assistant entail? Working under the direction of a nurse, a CNA plays a major role in providing basic care services to patients. Making beds, bathing and grooming patients, serving meals and feeding them if needed, checking their vital signs, and essentially, seeing to patients’ well-being are the primary, day-to-day responsibilities of the nurse assistant.

The CNA, otherwise referred to as a nurse’s aide, orderly, patient care technician, or home health aide, may also be called on to assist nurses in setting up medical equipment and help in some medical procedures.

True, a certified nursing assistant doesn’t exactly hold the most glorified job in the hospital — far from it. This job may mean long hours and some heavy lifting. But on the flip side, the nurse assistant does get to be in the forefront of patient-care activities, helping patients deal with daily living tasks, and in doing so, providing social and emotional support as well. And what others may consider as grunt or menial work, are in fact, the very things that offer patients the most comfort on their worst days.

CNA Training: How to Get a Nursing Assistant Education and Certification

Training to be a nursing assistant does not take a lot of time. This is the reason why many of today’s best registered nurses have started their careers as CNAs.

In order to enroll for a nursing assistant degree, you should first have your high school diploma or GED. Then, you’ll need to complete the CNA certificate program which takes about 6 to 12 weeks. This kind of program is offered at community colleges or even medical facilities.

While these could vary from school to school, course subjects for a nursing assistant program usually include anatomy and physiology, basic nursing skills, infection control, and nutrition. Then in addition to classroom instruction, you will be required to undergo clinical activities where you will experience hands-on training.

As soon as you’ve completed the required course work and practicals, you can then get your nursing assistant or CNA certification. Most CNA programs do provide a certification exam for their trainees, but the regulations for getting a certification may be different from one state to another. If you’re training to be a home health aide, the National Association for Home Care is in charge of setting the standard and providing national certification.

Average Salaries of a CNA

CNAs are trained to work in just about any health facility or institution where their assistance is needed: in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, homes for the aged, and private residences.

The income of a CNA varies depending on one’s years of experience, state of residence, and employer. According to a 2009 survey conducted by Salary.com, middle-earning nursing assistants earn about $24,729 and $29,887, while highly-paid CNAs have an average annual salary of at least $32,388.00.

Career Prospects for the CNA

With CNA training and a certification as a nursing assistant tucked under your belt, it’s easy to advance to a higher degree particularly registered nursing. Because a nursing assistant certification can be achieved in as short as 3 months, you can start working right away and save up for an LPN or RN education.

However, those who’ve decided they want to stick it out as a certified nursing assistant will have job security for the next several years. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that jobs for nursing assistants, home health aides, and psychiatric aides will see a 19 percent growth by the year 2018. The need for home health aides especially will escalate fast as more people look to in-home health services in caring for their elderly and physically challenged family members.

By providing basic knowledge and hands-on skills for patient care and growing job opportunities in the field, a nursing assistant education can take you a long way, whether you view it as stepping stone for higher degrees or your vocation for life.

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