How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Julie Shenkman
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Perhaps you are considering a career in the medical field? Well, have you thought about becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant (C.N.A.)? Maybe you are not sure what this involves or want to know more; well, that is what this article is here for. Let’s start with the “what”. What is a C.N.A. and what do they do? Basically they form part of a healthcare team. Registered nurses have a mass of tasks to perform and they need help. This is where the nursing assistant comes in. He or she assists registered nurses so that patients obtain the best healthcare possible. The work of a C.N.A. involves the routine care of patients. This includes:
  • Responding to patients’ needs.
  • Feeding and bathing patients where required.
  • Helping patients with walking and exercising.
  • Moving bedridden patients to prevent bedsores.
  • Transporting patients in wheelchairs or stretchers.
  • Making beds, changing linen and cleaning rooms.
  • Preparing patients for procedures and surgery.
  • Changing dressings.
  • Monitoring, recording and reporting on patients’ conditions.
  • Assisting with the use of bedpans.
  • Assisting in the case of any emergencies.
There's quite a variety so you won’t be bored. Where do they typically work? C.N.A.s can work in any nursing facility; from hospitals to nursing homes, hospices and even home settings. They can work with children right up to the elderly. So, you can take your pick. What are the prerequisites for the course? You don’t need any prior experience but, generally, you will require a High School Diploma - although you will find some courses that waver this. It’s useful if you have studied biology at school but there is certainly no requirement and it will not be a disadvantage if you haven’t. Where do you study? You can either study through a college (costs involved) or through a healthcare facility (for free). Just be aware of any commitments to the healthcare facility in exchange for your tuition i.e. read the fine print. The Red Cross also has a reputable training program to become a C.N.A. Warning: ensure that the program you choose is state-approved. Check with the relevant agency in your state for example, The State Board of Nursing. What does the course involve? You need to undergo the training and then take a State exam in order to become certified and placed on the State’s registry of nursing aides. (You’ll also have to have a health screening and a criminal record check.) In most cases C.N.A.s have to undertake 48 hours of additional training every two years in order to maintain their certification. The training is made up of 50 hours of theory in a class-room setting and 100 hours of hands-on training. The structure of the course depends on where you study. If you are at a healthcare facility, your class time could be anything from two to six weeks fulltime. At colleges and the Red Cross, it could be as much as six months depending on schedules. Nice flexibility. During the course you will cover all of the tasks of a C.N.A as well as the required background theory. What else should you know? There are some aspects of becoming a C.N.A. that you may want to consider:
  • Given the nature of the work you are probably going to end up working some evenings, weekends and public holidays. Hey, this could suit you.
  • You need to be compassionate, patient (think of how grumpy you can get if you are ill), organized, have strong communication skills and be able to work in a team.
  • According to the May 2008 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey salaries are around $11.84 per hour. Hospitals tend to pay the best.
  • Becoming a C.N.A. is a good stepping stone if you are not sure if nursing is for you or if you are battling with good old money at the moment (With enough experience, C.N.A’s can train to become registered nurses while still working.)
Look, there is no doubt about it, being a C.N.A. can be tough work. However, the difficult jobs are often the most rewarding. Article written by Juliet Du Preez for Circles of Light a self improvement blog.

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    thank you this article was  very helpful
    I would like to have some informations about international student who want to be  certified nurse assistant in Toronto -Ontario Canada through College or Red cross courses or training program .Thanks .
  • Dina T.
    Dina T.
    I have been cna three times and let my license expire not paying attention to the date.I have also done home health aide as well but i like being a CNA the best.So what can i do to get my license back i have a great work record and i want to get back into it.Please help me thanks
  • Cole Holland Training Center
    Cole Holland Training Center
    Becoming a CNA is a great way to get through college. As was pointed out the pay isn't bad (better than most college jobs) and you can work evenings as well. This worked out well for me at least.
  • Hajarah N.
    Hajarah N.
    I live in Toronto Canada, am i eligible to do this course?
  • laura lee
    laura lee
    I would like to enter a few field of work as C.N.A.  What steps are needed to be trained for this new career?
  • Debbie  L.
    Debbie  L.
    What is CNA2?
  • cna training
    cna training
    you are not sure what this involves or want to know more; well, that is what this article is here for. Let’s start with the “what”.
  • Somporn
    Where can I get my CNA2 I had CNA&CMA but I don't have CNA2 which is all the hospital requiredI would like to get CNA2 so I will have chance to work in the hospital.
  • Yvette
    Does anyone know of any nursing homes in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that offer on the job CNA training? Please let me know...Thanks
  • Kathy
    Thanks for the information I never knew the Red Cross offered a class for CNA training.
  • habadah Godwin
    habadah Godwin
    I think it is a great opportunity for me to be informed. I have completed senior high school in 2006 and is my desire to find myself in nursing.
  • mohan puri
    mohan puri
    Thanks a lot, I like this article. I was also a healthworker in healthpost, Nepal. I passed Auxillary Health Worker and I worked in a healthpost. Now, I'm a caregiver in Israel for 3yrs but I'm seeking a C.N.A. course. How do I do search for a C.N.A. class to improve my health assistant? How should I become a C.N.A. ? Thank you.
  • Jaden
    Thanks! The article was very informative. I'd just like to mention that a lot of nursing homes are also offering free CNA training, so it would be a good idea to start calling the ones in your area. And most Community Colleges offer this course, too.Since the demand for nurse assistants who have completed CNA training is overwhelming, it seems like an excellent career choice to me.Also, I highly suggest this Study Guide for anyone planning on taking the CNA State Exam:CNA Study Guide
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