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CNA Programs: An In-Depth Look at Nursing Assistants Programs

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Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) assists patients with activities of daily living under the supervision of a registered nurse, a licensed medical doctor or other licensed healthcare professionals.

Completing a CNA program to become a Certified Nursing Assistant is a promising way to enter the medical industry.  Those interested in the medical field, deciding on a career path or opting for a change in career are increasingly interested in pursuing a CNA Program to ultimately become certified as a CNA.  This entry-level position in the medical field is attractive for many reasons:

1. CNAs are in high demand and currently lead all medical occupations in terms of growth according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2. CNAs are needed in many different environments including hospitals, psychiatric institutions, hospice, elderly facilities and home health care.

3. The high demand for CNAs means ensured employment and job security after certification making this an attractive career path in the current down-turned economy.

4. Certification is relatively inexpensive compared to other vocations and degree pursuits and can be completed in a matter of several weeks not months or years when compared to a degree or medical technician training.

5. The fact that a CNA is an entry-level position in the medical field attracts many candidates to enter a nurses aides’ program since only a high school diploma or equivalent deems them eligible.

CNA Programs & Training: What You Should Know

In order to become a certified nursing assistant, it is necessary to successfully complete a state-approved nurse aide training program. Program options range from one month accelerated program to a couple of months training program and consists of between 30-60 hours of classroom instruction and 75-100 hours of supervised clinical training.

Once you complete a state approved training program you will also need to pass the Competency Exam (state exam) near you in order to hold a valid CNA license.

These training programs are offered throughout in community colleges, private colleges and universities, medical training centers and online schools. A list of suitable training programs may be found on your State Nursing Board of State Department of Health.

Training is delivered via a combination of learning aides from classroom lectures, demonstrations to direct exposure of actual nursing methods and processes whilst in a clinical setting.

Students will learn how to take and record blood pressure; body temperature; respiration and pulse rate including an array of other nursing activities such as how to bathe a patient, clothe, lift and assist in other daily living activities.

A student’s knowledge will be evaluated on an ongoing basis through various tests and quizzes

Are CNA classes that are offered online a wise choice?

Yes, you may also opt to attend online classes to complete your nursing assistant training, particularly great if you are already employed or a have a small family and are time-constricted. An online CNA training offers almost the same coursework as a traditional classroom set-up.

One of the benefits of attending online classes is that you can complete the required number of hours of training while at home. You can also learn in your own time!

When considering attending an online class, you should research well the school you intend to attend. You should only attend online schools that are authorized to provide accredited training programs.

CNA Program requisites

The minimum requirements to gain access to a nursing aide training program are:

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age.
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED (however not all schools require this)
  • Pass a physical exam and TB screening

Course work involved in a CNA training program?

Here is a sample of the lectures you are expected to cover as part of your classroom training:

  • Introduction to the role of a nurse aide
  • Resident Rights (covers abuse and neglect)
  • Infection Control (covers precautions, practices)
  • Medical Concerns/Emergency Procedures (covers accidents, burns, safety measures and prevention)
  • Fire Safety
  • Basic nursing skills (covers vital signs, recording height and weight)
  • Activities of Daily Living (covers positioning, turning and transferring of a patient, dressing and personal hygiene, nutrition and skin care)
  • Rehabilitation Oxygen use
  • Devices (prosthetics, hearing aids, dentures and eyes)
  • Special care needs (covers IV, infection control and pain factor)
  • Cognitive Impairment (covers therapies and communication strategies)
  • Mental Health (covers causes, use of defense mechanisms and treatment)
  • Common Diseases and Disorders for the Nervous, Circulatory and Musculo-Skeletal Systems
  • Common Diseases and Disorders – Respiratory and Urinary
  • Common Diseases and Disorders – Gastrointestinal, Endocrine, Reproductive and Immune System
  • Admission/Transfer/Discharge
  • Daily Responsibilities (covers day-to-day time management and interdisciplinary meetings)

This in-depth training will ensure you get all the necessary knowledge and give you the confidence you need to commence employment.

For example when admitting a new patient in a nursing facility your role will be to prepare the room, introduce yourself to the patient and their family members, explain all the surroundings including the help alarm bell, create a trusting relationship and become an overall resource of support for the family.

Finally … the CNA Certification Exam

For those who aspire to work as a CNA and hold a valid license most states require you satisfy the following requirements.

  • Pass a state competency evaluation exam
  • Complete a 75-hour state-approved training program

The State Competency Evaluation exam is made up of two parts:

  1. a Clinical Skills exam (practical portion); and
  2. a Written exam made of around 70 multiple choice questions.

Note however that being certified in one state does not mean automatic certification in all states. The good news is that the difference between written exam and clinical skills exam between each state is minimal. Over 25 states are using the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam to measure competency.

As additional requirements may also apply depending on your state be sure to contact your State Board for additional information.