A CNA is also known as a Certified Nursing Assistant. This is the nursing field entry-level position that is typically assigned direct patient care in both medical and non-medical environments. Certified nursing assistants can be found working at private clinics, hospitals, private homes as well as nursing homes and is one of the more highly demanded nursing careers in the medical job market today. Many people wishing to pursue a career as a registered nurse, also known as an RN, start out in a position such as a CNA in order to gain first-hand experience helping make the decision for committing the time, effort and financial resources needed to become a Registered Nurse. A CNA received valuable nursing experience at this entry-level position and even though the salary for an RN is considerably higher, many CNA’s experience a great deal more responsibility and are actually the busy bee workers of the industry.
Entry Level Salary
A certified nursing assistant typically makes somewhere in the area of $12 per hour carrying out duties that are central for patient health. They assist Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses with such duties as maintaining a patient’s daily personal hygiene, monitoring vital signs, bathing, feeding, dressing patients as well as helping with the day-to-day chores of exercising and preparing patients for medical procedures. CNAs perform all the daily activities that are essential for maintaining a patient’s proper health. Often, CNAs are the backbone of the medical staff in such places as retirement homes or private homes or other extended care facilities where they work under the supervision of a doctor or Registered Nurse.
A Job By Any Other Name
Also known in many places as Nursing Aides, Certified Nursing Assistants are governed by a state registry that dictates the necessary training and continuing education requirements in order to maintain certification. Typical training to receive such certification falls into somewhere between 80 to 160 course hours. The cost for such education can be anywhere from $500-$2,000. However, many institutions in attempts to fill always needed CNA slots in their employment schedule often do offer on-site CNA training in order to attract staffing personnel. In some places throughout the country a CNA can also be called a Certified Nurse Aide, a Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC), a State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA), a Patient Care Assistant (PCA) or possibly a Nursing Assistant-Registered (NA/R). Although the starting pay for most CNAs is somewhere between $10-$12 per hour, often the employment package is accompanied by excellent benefits that include such items as both health and dental care as well as 401(k) retirement.
Position Becoming More Increasingly in Demand
An aging population in the United States has also created a great job demand for qualified Certified Nursing Assistants. Many elderly Americans choose to live in extended care facilities, or retirement homes, where the job prospects for qualified individuals to serve as nursing assistants is growing rapidly. This is a great way for any individual interested in a medical career to break into the healthcare industry obtaining a good position that has great job security with many personal day-to-day rewards for responsibility and care given to others. Although the position of a CNA is at the bottom of the employment ladder in the nursing industry, this particular entry level position has nothing but great prospects for continued growth, and rapid growth that that, in the first year will feature which will more than likely lead to greater compensation as time progresses.
Find Out Exact Certification Requirements
Individuals interested in becoming a CNA need to check with their state authorizing agency in order to discover the exact requirements and course study needed before agreeing to sign up for classes online or through a local facility. Also, check with the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNA).
Price For Being Needed
As stated earlier, many local facilities that employ CNAs offer either low-cost or free training. It is a good idea to check with local nursing homes, long-term care facilities, hospitals and other medical institutions that employ CNAs to see if they offer campus classes or online study. Often, individuals that take these particular classes are treated to a prelude to employment at the sponsoring facility. In many situations, facility sponsored education results in full-time employment for CNA after four-to-six weeks of training. Typically, students must sign in an employment agreement prior to taking the training that compels them to work at the sponsoring facility is a CNA for specified period of time. If this is not agreeable, it is better to look for a local school district that sponsors a CNA training through vocational education or seek to take CNA courses online. Make sure to check that any CNA training includes the cost for taking the certification test.
Call the Red Cross
Another great place to look for CNA classes to your local Red Cross which will already be set up to fulfill any state requirements necessary for the proper training leading to certification. Often, individuals may find that in their area of CNA classes are offered through a local community or junior college. In the event that you find a course of study at a local institution of higher learning, expect to become enrolled in a six-month course that may cost up to $600 to complete.
Make Sure Training is Accredited
In any event, whether you take a course of training sponsored by a local medical facility that leads to your employment, or you choose to study with CNA classes online, make sure that this course of study you’ve chosen is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNA). You may also find a combination of classes offered that include hands-on training in a local facility while others will be offered online.
Course Subjects Studied
Typically, CNA training classes concentrate on such areas as infection prevention, taking blood samples, taking vital signs, bed making, patient personal hygiene, CPR, safety and other basic nursing practices. Many of the functions of a CNA was performed on a daily basis are physically demanding requiring a person to be able to lift a considerable amount of weight, stand on their feet for long shifts at a time and get involved in the day-to-day functions for keeping the environment clean and safe for patients.
CNA Experience Leads to Advanced Nursing Career
Although the functions performed by CNA or at the level in the nursing field, the actual experience is a great preparation for transitioning to becoming an LPN, or licensed practical nurse. Individuals who have experienced the nursing field at the CNA level may wish to continue their career ratcheting it up another notch by making a minimal investment in education that leads to becoming an LPN.