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FAQ’s for Prospective CNA Students

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CNAs support staff in various health care settings by providing basic care to nursing patients. If you love being on the front-lines and supporting patients’ day-to-day needs, CNA might be the right career for you.

If you’re interested in a job in the health care field you might have considered becoming a registered nurse, or an RN. Becoming a nurse is expensive and takes time, which is why many nurses start out as Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs.

Here are the answers to some common questions about becoming a CNA:

How does a 17-year-old become a CNA?

For most CNA training programs in the US, the minimum age is 18. Some states allow applicants who are 16 or 17 with parental consent. High school students looking to start a career when they graduate can get help on how to start by speaking to their high school counselors to see what programs are available.

How long does it take to become a CNA?

Although they differ from state to state, most CNA programs take 4 to 12 weeks and involve both classroom time and clinical training.

How hard is CNA training and how long does it take for your certification?

CNA training is really not that hard and many CNA’s can vouch for that. You will be assigned a study book which you will be required to read, be prepared to be quizzed on it and talk in-depth on the subject. So as long as you’ll do the required reading and study you should be fine.

The majority of the CNA’s find the clinical and skills test to be most challenging so our advice is to study your skills and practice them as much as possible.

Don’t stress out about the clinical part, you are there to learn after all and as long as you show up every day for the lectures and stay positive, you will breeze through it.

Depending on the length of your course and your states’ requirement of clinical hours and classroom time, it take can anywhere from a few weeks to a 3 months to obtain certification.

What is the average day like for a CNA?

If you are in the process of completing CNA training or are thinking about working in this field, a typical CNA work day only slightly varies depending on where they’re working, be it a nursing home, hospital or private duty.

Typically, a CNA average work day can be quite hectic depending on the shift involved. You will work alongside with typically three or four other members and do the rounds (toileting, re-positioning, etc.) Once a member leaves home for the shift, you usually get a report.

You get breakfast/lunch/supper ready and server it depending on your shift. You ensure patients are dressed and up, brush teeth/denture care basic morning care.

During feeding times, you walk around ensure that no-one is choking or having difficulties in eating and clear out trays when finished.

Nurses will typically give you a report and a list of vitals to do. The report will contain a list of people assigned for you to shower, lotion and change them. You prep lines and make up beds. You also ensure patients are getting their daily walks and help them achieve that (those than can).

During the day there will a number of call bells that you’ll need to answer since many patients will need to revisit the bathroom. And the rest of patients will have to be re-checked/changed again, check cath bags, take vitals and check briefs again.You will need to document your progress and check in with the nurse to see if there are any special duties they need you to attend to.

A CNA’s day can be quite hectic and while they work in teams and assist each other when necessary, it can still get a little overwhelming at times.

Is becoming a CNA worth it?

Being a CNA can be physically and emotionally challenging, but if you’re a compassionate people person who doesn’t have a problem with being around sick people or bodily fluids it can be very rewarding.

According to BLS data, pay ranges from $9.64 to $18.22. Some may find that pay low for how hard CNAs work, but keep in mind there’s room for growth if you start as a CNA and continue your education.

Do you get any benefits working as a CNA?

As a full-time (and sometimes part-time working a certain number of hours) CNA, you should be eligible for many benefits and programs, including: medical, dental and vision benefits, paid leave, a retirement plan, tuition assistance, and more.

What’s the best way to make sure you pass the CNA and skills test?

To become a CNA, you must pass a multiple choice and a skills test, which varies from state-to-state. Prepare by making sure you can list and perform the tasks you learned in training (practicing on friends and family helps).

Listen carefully to instructions during the exam and get clarification if needed. Also, remember small things like knocking on patients’ door before entering and proper hand-washing procedures.

What is the demographic for certified nursing assistants?

Because training for CNAs is fast and easily accessible in most states, there are a lot of CNAs in their late teens and early 20s. However, it’s not uncommon to see CNAs who are somewhat older (50s and 60s, for example).

If you’re a compassionate and hard-working person who is physically capable, you can be a CNA.

There are fewer older CNAs in most places because the work can be physically demanding (like lifting and moving patients) and because many CNAs go on to become LVNs and RNs.

Will being a CNA help me get into nursing school?

Yes. Being a CNA is a great first step to take before becoming an RN. It allows you to see if the health care field is right for you, gives you experience, will help you pay for nursing school, and allows you to work closely with RNs and supervisors in the field.

What can you do with a CNA license?

CNAs can choose from many possible work settings and opportunities, including hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and long-term care homes. CNAs perform basic patient care duties and have less responsibility in terms of decision making compared to other staff they work alongside.

What are the duties of a nurses aide?

Nurse aide duties include helping medical staff take care of patients in hospitals and long-term care homes. They help patients with basic needs, like feeding and bathing.

Nurse aides are also trained to perform basic medical duties, like taking patients’ blood pressure, temperature, and pulse to monitor vitals. They report changes or concerns to a doctor or supervisor.

What is the difference between a CNA and a CMA?

The main difference between a CNA and a CMA is that CNA positions involve direct patient care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

CMA positions involve things like prepping patients, performing clerical duties, and ensuring that exam rooms are sterile, stocked, and ready to go in settings like medical centers and urgent care clinics.

CMAs require more in-depth medical knowledge; therefore, they go to school longer and are typically paid more than CNAs.

What is the difference between a CNA and an LVN?

One big difference between CNAs and LVNs is in their training. CNAs are trained in basic patient care, which usually takes place in under 200 hours over the course of several weeks. LVN training is a more detailed and can take one or two years to complete.

LVNs have more responsibility than CNAs and are required to continue their education and work in the field in order to maintain their license. Both jobs require employees to keep up with certifications every two years.

What is the difference between a CNA and an RN?

In some places, you can become a CNA by taking a six-week course at a community college. Although they perform basic duties, CNAs are one of patients’ main caregivers. RNs, on the other hand, must go through a state-approved nursing program or go for a 2 to 4-year degree and have less involvement with patients.

Compared to CNAs who have minimal decision-making capabilities and need to be trained in basic patient care, RNs have much more responsibility.

Some RN duties include providing treatments as per doctors’ orders, operating medical equipment, and overseeing other staff such as LVNs and CNAs.

How do CNAs and HHAs differ?

The biggest difference between CNAs and HHAs is that HHAs can give patients medication and CNAs cannot. Both positions are entry level and have a lot of duties that overlap, but they work in different settings. HHAs work with patients in their own homes rather than in facility or hospital settings.

What are reputable CNA pre-employment assessment tests?

A CNA pre employment test is quite similar to a state exam so just go over all of the topics you learned for your CNA exam.

In total there can be between 28-50 questions and a lot of them are common sense questions as well as situational/skill based ones. Be familiar with the basic CNA knowledge test and re-familiarize yourself with the knowing all the vitals thresholds, i.e. the normal temperature ranges, pulse, BP, respiration, O2 stats etc.

Studying to become a CNA can be a great first step towards a career in nursing. It can also be a fulfilling career on its own. Demand for CNAs is high and there are many potential places for new CNAs to work!