A Guide to Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant
Becoming a CNA is an important step in your career and identifying a good training program can put you on the path to success. In an otherwise challenging job market, career opportunities in the medical field are continuing to expand at high rate as demand for qualified health professionals is outpacing the supply of new talent entering the job market.
A few of the major advantages to this profession are that it does not require a 4-year degree and the cost of taking courses is relatively low. Fortunately, there are some great online resources that will help you decide on a state-approved certified nursing assistant training program and prepare you to pass the certification exam. This step by step guide will answer some common questions and walk you through the educational process.
The first thing you will need to do is gather information about schools in your area that offer certified nursing assistant programs. Most programs have an online information request form you can complete to start the process. Start by contacting a school that interests you and request information about their program, they will explain how the application process works and give you details such as the cost of tuition.
Be sure to find out about any prerequisites for entering the program. While these are usually very basic, most states require that applicants do not have any felony convictions and some set certain minimum standards of education. Next, take the time to ask about enrollment deadlines, financial aid availability, and course scheduling. When you are evaluating different training programs, it is a good idea to research graduation rates as this is often a reliable indicator of quality. A high pass rate is typically indicative of an effective curriculum and a competent faculty that is ready to help you succeed.
What to expect:
Your classes are likely to begin with a basic overview of health care and definitions of important terminology. You are going to learn about the organizational structure of common care facilities such as hospitals and clinics. You will also see what the roles and responsibilities of a registered nurse and licensed practical nurse consist of. From there, your coursework transitions into covering topics such as ethics, procedures, state and federal standards, and the delegation process. In your classes, there will be a heavy focus on learning medical vocabulary and basic concepts such as patient’s rights.
CNA training will focus on essential skills for a nursing assistant including effective communication, problem solving, developing good safety practices, and proper record keeping. Students also learn about infection control, basic nutrition, providing emergency care, measuring vital signs, assisting with diagnostic testing, and the admissions and discharge process. While this may seem like a lot of material to cover, it is important to keep in mind that your instructors are going to present the information at an introductory level that is easy for most students to understand.
Upon successful completion of your classes, you will need to pass the certification exam in the state where you intend to work. This typically involves paying a small application fee to take the test and completing a fingerprint card. The purpose of the card is to run a background check and verify that the candidate is eligible for certification.
The Certification Exam
The exam itself covers the material you learn during your training and involves a written and manual portion. Scheduling your exam within a few weeks of completing your certified nursing assistant program is a good idea because it allows you to pass the test while the information is fresh in your mind. In addition to your courses, there are some good practice exams and sample questions available online to help your prepare for your big day.
As you begin the process of becoming a certified nursing assistant, there are a few things that are important to know. The training process involves two components, a part that covers theory and terminology and a clinical portion. An online CNA class will only be able to satisfy the first half of the requirement. The second part of the certification process involves hands-on training in a live clinical setting. This allows you to demonstrate an understanding of key skills and concepts under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or class instructor. Remember, the sooner you get started, the faster you can start your new career! Start today by requesting free information about the availability of an upcoming course from schools in your area.