If you are considering a career in nursing, then becoming a certified nursing assistant is a good way to get a foothold in the healthcare industry.
A Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA, is known by many other names as well. In the US, aside from CNA, they may also be called as NA/R (Nursing Assistant-Registered), STNA (State Tested Nurse Aid) or PCA (Patient Care Assistant). However, regardless of the names, their roles and responsibilities in healthcare are more or less the same anywhere.
Becoming a CNA is a good stepping stone towards becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) someday. Taking CNA courses and experiencing CNA work first-hand will enable you to assess whether nursing is something that fits your long-term career goals. After gaining all the much-needed basic knowledge and experience, you can then take the next level into studying to become an RN or LPN if you wish.
The main role of a CNA in a hospital is to take care of routine tasks in place of the RN or the LPN, in order to free up their time to do the tasks only they can perform. RN’s and LPN’s need to concentrate on formulating care plans, administering medication, nursing assessments and assisting in surgery room preparation.
The basic duty of a CNA is to take the patients’ well-being in mind. They are the ones who assist the patients with their activities of daily living like feeding and bathing. CNA’s also make sure that the patients’ rooms and beds are clean and that the bed linens are changed from time to time. They also assist the patients with moving around and getting some exercise, or turning over or repositioning the bedridden patients. The CNA’s are also responsible for monitoring the patients’ vital signs and to report any significant changes to the attending nurse or physicians.
Starting your healthcare career as a CNA is not as daunting as one may think. It is even possible to study becoming a CNA for free. The US Medicare offers employers a chance to be able to reimburse fees on certain training courses and cna courses are included. Ask your local hospital or nursing home if they offer free on-the-job training if you want to become a CNA, but do not have the budget for it.
Once you finish a training course, you may finally begin your CNA career. You do not need certification to become nurse aids, orderlies or patient care technicians. However, if you plan to become an RN in the future, you will need to undergo certification. The training courses you will take will also help you towards this goal.
In some US states, certification is required for all nurse aids. The exam process is divided into two parts – a theory exam and a practical exam. In the theory exam, candidates should be able to answer simple questions about their expected tasks and routines. In the practical exam, candidates should be able to demonstrate how to apply their tasks using a simulated environment.