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In addition to receiving excellent pay, being a certified nurses aide is also a ‘feel good’ career choice because you are helping someone in need and, in turn, improving their quality of life.
Certified nursing assistants go by a variety of names depending on where they work and the state in which they are registered. Some of the different names include NA, or Nurse Aide, RNA, or registered nurse aide, GNA, or geriatric nurse aide, STNA, or state tested nurse aide, and LNA, or licensed nursing assistant.
No matter what the title is, a certified nursing assistant provides hands-on care to patients of all ages who are unable to care completely for themselves. This individual can work in a variety of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, skilled nursing units, hospice agencies, Alzheimer’s units and rehabilitation facilities, where they will report directly to a licensed nurse. Certified nursing assistants provide important care, such as taking vital signs, providing bed baths, dressing and feeding patients, helping patients walk, transporting patients and even charting in some facilities. Work duties depend on the facility’s policies and on the exact certification that the individual holds. However, certified nursing assistants typically work as the eyes and ears of the supervising nurse by reporting patient findings back to the nurse.
The role of certified nursing assistant is rapidly growing at a rate faster than most other occupations. In fact, nursing assistant jobs are projected to increase by 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, ensuring that new nursing assistants will not struggle to find a job in most areas. Currently, the United States boasts 1.5 million nursing assistant jobs with the average certified nursing assistant making just over $25,000 per year.
– Ohio (4,993,047)
– Illinois (3,791,544)
– Michigan (3,099,081)
The most common place to look for CNA training is at a traditional community college or vocational school where students will have the most hands-on experience and traditional classroom learning experiences. However, those who prefer to work around a hectic schedule or train in their own time can try an online school, which often work with local hospitals to provide a clinical experience. Students should ensure that an online program meets the demands of their own state for certification. Other national organizations, such as the American Red Cross, offer courses throughout the country. Finally, some hospitals and long-term care facilities provide free or highly discounted training to individuals that they have hired.
Students applying to a CNA training program will need to have a high school diploma or GED prior to enrolling. They may also need to take a basic English and math assessment test and orientation class before beginning CNA training. Most schools insist on a background and criminal check to ensure that students do not have a criminal history. Other schools require a full physical, an updated immunization record and a negative tuberculosis screening prior to starting clinicals. Most classes last between 4 to 12 weeks and cost approximately $1,500.
All CNA training courses are required to have two parts. Students begin with CNA theory in the classroom where they will learn basic nursing skills, such as how to take vital signs and provide end-of-life care, as well as personal care skills, such as dressing, feeding, ambulating and bathing patients as well as providing appropriate skin care. They will also learn about basic disease processes, including how to care for cognitively impaired individuals. Students will then have a number of hours practicing these skills and learning hands-on skills at local healthcare facilities during the clinical portion of the CNA training. The minimum number of training hours for any state is 75 of which 16 must be spent in a clinical setting. However, many states require many more hours than this.
While theory is a major part of CNA training, the skills portion is really what will help a CNA be successful on the job. Some skills are practiced on fellow students or mannequins in the classroom. However, most skills are practiced during one’s clinical hours. Students will practice transferring patients from bed to chair, performing bed baths, making beds, using orthotic devices, protecting patient’s rights, assisting with range of motion exercises, helping with geriatric care, teaching patients self-care, orienting patients with cognitive impairment and helping with many activities of daily life. The clinicals are an excellent place for CNA students to practice excellent communication with both patients and nurses because this is a key facet in the work of an outstanding CNA.
Most CNA courses cost approximately $1,500 for a four to eight-week course. However, depending on the location in the country, some classes may cost less than $1,000. On the other hand, private schools may cost closer to $2,000. Typically, this price does not include the cost of textbooks, which can run up to a few hundred dollars for science and nursing-related textbooks. In addition, CNAs may need to purchase their own uniforms, which they may need to wear to class and will certainly need to wear to clinicals. In the case of students who are training at their own workplace, the uniforms may be provided by the employer. Those who are already employed as nurse aides may get some tuition reimbursement from the employer. Many CNA programs offer scholarships to qualified students.
A certified nursing assistant works in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital, skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation facility, to provide direct care to patients who are unable to care completely for themselves. They help with daily care tasks, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding and much more, and also provide vital emotional support when communicating with patients. They report directly to a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse and may even chart patient statistics.
While most vocational and online schools charge a fee per credit hour for CNA training, some hospitals and other healthcare facilities provide free CNA training to individuals who are employed with the facility. This helps the student by allowing him or her to become more familiar with the working environment and also helps the facility find capable employees following completion of the program.
Each state has a nurse aide registry where individuals who have current and active CNA licenses and who meet state and federal nurse aide guidelines are listed. These registries are often found online, allowing other states and various employers to check quite easily on the certification of a potential employee. In states that have multiple levels of nurse aides, individuals may be listed on more than one nurse aide registry.
The skills that CNAs are allowed to perform are regulated by individual states and healthcare facilities. In general, however, CNAs provide direct patient care, such as bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting patients, cleaning patient rooms, transporting patients to medical examinations, changing sheets and taking vital signs. Some states may also allow CNAs to pass some medications to patients and to chart vital signs. Each task is performed under the direct supervision of a nurse.
CNAs are not allowed to do tasks that fall under the realm and licensure of a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. While this may vary from state to state, it includes administering intravenous medications, starting IVs, assisting with direct post-operative care, charting physical assessments, assisting the doctor with diagnostic tests, teaching patients, creating patient care plans, operating certain types of medical equipment and taking a doctor’s orders.
Private duty CNA work may be an option for CNAs who are very compassionate and have an excellent rapport with patients. Private duty work may be found through an agency, and it is typically performed in a patient’s home by providing vital one-on-one care to homebound individuals. The private duty CNA is often the first line of help for a patient’s everyday home needs, such as ambulating, eating, dressing and bathing.
The cost to attend CNA training may be greater than some students can handle. Many schools as well as professional nursing organizations offer scholarships to qualifying students. Scholarship applications often require the student to write an essay. Another option is Federal Student Aid, which can be easier to repay than private loans are. The Pell Grant is found at many community colleges, and the Workforce Investment Act is designed to help low-income individuals.
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