How to Become a CNA

How to Become a CNA

Everyday more people need excellent medical care in hospitals and long-term care facilities. CNAs are vital direct care workers that assist nurses and other medical personnel in caring for patients and ensuring the smooth functioning of the healthcare facility.

What does a CNA do?

A CNA or formally called Certified Nursing Assistant helps care for patients with a variety of ailments in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and other medical environments. They perform routine tasks and provide hands-on medical care under the direct supervision of nurses and other medical staff. They assist patients with bathing, dressing, grooming, walking, exercising, and eating. They answer patient calls, reposition bedridden patients, serve meals, make beds, deliver messages, and clean up rooms. CNAs are also often responsible for taking patients’ vital signs including temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate and recording food and liquid intake and output. They often transport patients for procedures and provide skin care. They also observe the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of patients and promptly report changes or concerns to nurses or other medical personnel. Some CNAs help stock and store supplies, set up equipment, and prep for procedures.

What kind of training does a CNA need?

CNAs need at least a high school diploma or GED and must complete a 6 to 12 week Certified Nursing Assistant certificate program with a minimum of 75 hours of education including 16 hours of supervised clinical instruction. Community colleges, vocational-technical schools, and medical facilities often offer CNA certification programs. Students learn anatomy and physiology, basic nursing skills, infection control, and nutrition and receive hands-on experience through clinical activities.

Most CNA programs offer a certification exam and regulations vary by state, but usually include mastering a set of basic patient care skills. CNAs are placed on the state registry of nursing assistants once they pass the state examination. They must complete 12 hours of continuing education every year to maintain their certification.

What are the prospects for a career as a CNA?

Employment of all nursing aides is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 18% from 2006 to 2016 (1). An increasing elderly population with long-term healthcare needs and modern medical technology will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially in nursing and residential facilities. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace CNAs who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do CNAs make?

As of October 2009, the middle 50% of CNAs earn average annual salaries between $24,118 and $29,424. The top 10% earns more than $31,996 (2).

A career as CNA is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong interest in providing care to patients. CNAs must be patient, tactful, understanding, dependable, emotionally stable, and in good overall health. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to effectively work as part of a team.

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