Certified Nursing Assistants, also known as CNAs, are a valuable position at healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. They work closely with licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. Although they work closely together, CNAs have different functions such as bathing and dressing patients and assisting nurses and other medical staff. Working as a CNA can be very rewarding. Not only will you assist medical staff with important tasks, but you will also care for people when they are most vulnerable. If this position sounds interesting. you may want to look into your available CNA training near you. If you are unable to find training locally, you may want to explore the available CNA training online.
Not everyone hitting this page may be completely familiar with what a CNA is or what they do. Here are a few quick questions and answers before we dive into the details.
- What is a CNA? A Certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a member of a healthcare team that works under the direction of an RN or LPN to provide essential tasks like taking vital signs, hygiene, eating, and getting in and out of bed.
- What does a CNA do? As mentioned above, CNAs provide a number of day to day tasks for patients in a variety of healthcare settings. This includes a broad range of skills including providing emotional support, taking blood pressure readings, assisting in exercise, bathing, and much more.
- What are the requirements to become a CNA? While the requirements can change slightly from state to state the generally consistent requirements to become a CNA are being 18 years of age, having a high school diploma or equivalent, proof of immunization, passing a background check, having a CPR and First Aid certification, and passing a physical and TB test.
- Is a CNA the same as a nurse aide, medical assistant, or home health aide? There are some differences between CNAs home health aides (HHAs) and medical assistants. CNAs can work in a variety of healthcare settings and work under the direction of an LPN or RN. HHAs work in a patient’s home and do not have the medical training CNAs have like taking vital signs. Medical assistants (MAs) have more administrative duties than CNAs, as they bounce between administrative duties and more technical medical duties such as performing EKGs and injections. Earning an MA diploma will take up to 12 months, but the pay is also slightly higher than that of a CNA.
- Can I take CNA online classes for free? There is a tremendous amount of free online resources for aspiring CNAs. However, you won’t be able to receive a CNA license online without some in-person training. While some employers may reimburse your training or cover the costs, you will still need to have some in-person instruction and testing to become a licensed CNA.
What’s the difference between an online CNA program and standard CNA courses?
Like many educational programs these days CNAs also have opportunities to take online courses. CNA training online is an alternative to local, in-person training. This is especially beneficial for those who cannot commit to a full-time or a day-time program due to other obligations such as family, or another job. Although there is flexibility with online programs, it is also important to remember that in-person clinical experience is needed. CNA certification typically requires at least 75 hours of clinical training that needs to be approved by the state, and well over 100 hours in some states.
Pros of an online CNA course
- Flexibility. Courses can fit into your schedule, especially helpful for those who may be working another job or have obligations during normal school hours.
- Geography is less of an issue. While you’ll still need to travel for in-person training, if you’re not located near a training facility or school, online courses will lessen your need to travel back and forth.
Cons of taking CNA programs online
- Lack of classroom participation. Although this may be a relief for some, choosing not to participate in discussions or during lectures is really only detrimental to the person who is supposed to be learning. Reminders to stay engaged while online and help enhance an online experience to make it more comparable to an in-person classroom.
- Time management can be a problem. Most in-person CNA training will likely have more structured schedules with very specific class times, and more stringent deadlines. Online CNA training will likely be more relaxed, with more flexible deadlines, and opportunities to view lectures at different times. While this is beneficial for anyone who is busy, it is important to budget personal time to ensure that work does not pile up and become overwhelming.
- In-person CNA programs will likely require in-person clinical experiences, as they are more hands-on. Do not wait to get these experiences while you are pursuing your CNA certification online. It’s important that your experiences are fresh and your skills are sharp. If you don’t feel like the mandatory clinical experiences are enough, make a commitment to volunteer in a CNA setting such as a hospital to ensure your skills stay sharp.
What are the typical admission requirements for taking a CNA course online?
CNA programs typically require students to have a high school diploma or GED, and in some states you may be able to attend a program at 16 or 17 while still taking high school courses. If the online courses are being offered at a community college or a technical school you’ll likely need to supply high school transcripts along with standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT. Most classes will center around topics about anatomy and physiology, nutrition, infection control, patient care, ethics, patient relations, and communications.
What else goes into becoming a licensed CNA?
There are a number of steps required for becoming a licensed CNA in your state. To do so, you must:
- Apply and be accepted to an accredited CNA program (a CNA online course or an in-person program)
- Complete your state’s minimum required hours of clinical studies
- Pass both the written and skills portion of the CNA exam
- Get listed in your state’s CNA registry
How much do CNAs get paid?
If you’re considering a CNA school online you’re likely interested in knowing how much you’ll get paid once completing your program and earning your license. It’s important to know that the salary range for a CNA can vary dramatically depending on a number of factors including your location and the type of facility where you work. For example, you’ll make more in Alaska than you will in Louisiana and you’ll make more working at a government medical facility than you will at a nursing home. All that said, the average salary for a CNA in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was $28,530, or $13.72 per hour.
Additional career paths for CNAs
While becoming a CNA is a fulfilling job that many people make a career of, there are plenty of options for advancement in the healthcare industry. Many CNAs will take further courses to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). These are the positions that a CNA reports to, so it’s a logical next step in their career. You can learn more by reading our blog post about how to go from a CNA to an RN or LPN.Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay