With a shortage in supply of medical professionals such as doctors and nurses and a growing demand for healthcare services, becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is increasingly becoming a lucrative career. Also known as nurse’s aides, orderlies and patient care technicians, certified nursing assistants play an important role in the country’s hospitals, nursing homes and other various health-care facilities.
A certified nursing assistant is usually tasked in undertaking various aspects of patient care, which usually include assisting patients with mobility, hygiene, grooming, and nutrition. A certified nursing assistant is also expected to have knowledge in the use of medical equipment, and basic skills in procedures such as taking blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and the like.
Training for cna certification usually entails both theoretical and practical applications of health-care concepts.
What is required?
Cna training and certification can be acquired through various means. This includes campus-based training, in which a candidate learns theoretical knowledge and techniques in a classroom setting. Other options include online courses, which can be particularly useful for candidates who are currently involved in other professions.
Campus training has the advantage of allowing for a hands-on education. Students who take on-campus CNA programs benefit from close contact with instructors and peers, access to laboratories, and greater hands-on experience. On-campus training can usually be taken at a community college or hospital setting.
Meanwhile, those who are considering becoming a CNA as a change of career might find it difficult to attend traditional classroom-based trainings. In this case, online courses are a viable alternative.
What you are expected to learn?
Students training for CNA certification can expect to learn about the various procedures and equipment necessary in implementing patient care. As a certified nursing assistant is also expected to assist with basic personal needs of a patient, such as hygiene, the concepts behind training can be more complex than how the profession is normally viewed.
For example, CNAs are trained on best practices in basic hygiene and patient care, such as bathing, showering, brushing and flossing of teeth, grooming, and even denture care. CNAs are also expected to assist patients in going to the bathroom or using the bedpan. Post-operative care might include emptying of urinary bags or assistance to patients with catheters.
Aside from basic hygienic procedures, CNAs are also expected to perform or assist with some of the tasks that a registered nurse would usually undertake. These include using a thermometer to take temperature, taking pulse and respiration rates, using a sphygmomanometer for taking blood pressure, and the like. More physical tasks would involve helping patients dress and undress, and even transferring patients to and from beds and chairs. Sometimes, this involves the use of mechanical lifts and devices.
How long does training last?
Training for certification usually takes anywhere from three months to a year, depending on the training program. Different certification bodies would require varying minimum training hours in order to become eligible to work as a CNA.
How much does training cost?
Fee-based training is often the norm, and costs can vary depending on the school or hospital. However, some schools and hospitals would usually offer free training programs on becoming a certified nursing assistant. Some programs are even subsidized by the state, under various projects. Most of these are geared toward providing employment opportunities to marginalized sectors of society.
Free programs usually come with a service contract, in which the candidate will agree to work for a hospital or for the state for a certain period after certification. In some cases, free training programs are held in order to meet the demand for CNAs.
What does certification entail?
The National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) is the main exam taken by potential CNAs in the USA. This involves various segments divided into written, oral, and practical skills assessment. The written portion entails a multiple-choice type of questionnaire that covers skills that a CNA is expected to know. The oral portion consists of 10 comprehension questions and some multiple-choice questions. The practical portion, meanwhile, is designed to assess the candidate’s skills in a hospital setting.
Apart from the NNAAP, each state may have its own certification programs approved by the American Nurse Association Commission of Nurse Accreditation. Successfully certified individuals will have their names listed in their respective state’s Nurse Aide registry, and can renew their certification annually.
Apart from certification, a CNA may also be expected to meet certain personal qualities, such as good morals and conduct. A CNA is also expected to be healthy, drug-free and without criminal records.
Certified Nursing Assistants are considered front-line members of a medical team. In most cases, patients will expect to be in close contact with a CNA more than nurses and doctors.