What is CNA continuing education (CE)?
Many healthcare workers are required to take continuing education courses to stay on top of new developments in their professions. CNAs are no different. For license renewal, federal law dictates that CNAs take a minimum of 12 hours of CE courses per year in most states. Some states have slightly different requirements, like Florida and California. California requires twice the hours each year, while Florida allows 24 hours to be taken at any point within a two year span, but specifies the subjects CNAs must take.
One of the benefits of required continuing education is that it offers you some flexibility in changing jobs. For example, if you know you’d like to make a move from working in a home health care environment to a specialized hospital position, you can take courses geared toward that specialty.
When the time comes to renew your certification you will need to complete a form with all of the information about the classes you’ve completed, including:
- Course titles
- Dates you took the courses
- Government issued provider information
- Phone number and address of provider(s)
What are the CNA continuing education requirements?
Outside of the state mandated courses in Florida, you usually have some flexibility in choosing which CNA continuing education courses you’d like to take. Each of these courses are designed to update or expand the basic skills that were learned during your initial training courses when you gained your CNA license.
Common CNA CE courses include:
- Infection control and HIV/AIDS
- Domestic violence
- End of life care
- Legal aspects of record documentation
- Resident rights
- Understanding Alzheimer’s
- CPR skills
- Communicating with cognitively impaired patients
- Dealing with difficult patients
- Managing the CNA/nurse relationship
- Legal issues
While some CNA employers like nursing homes and long term care facilities may not have the infrastructure to offer their own CE courses, many hospitals will. In these cases, the hospitals often provide courses that are tailored to the needs of their facility. As an employee this can be extremely valuable as you will be working on skills that you will be using in your day to day activities. Occasionally, non-hospital employers will offer to cover the cost of continuing education for CNAs, so if you’re just starting out, or weighing different job options, be sure to inquire.
Where can I take CNA CE courses?
The number of options you have for getting your required hours of continuing education can depend on where you live and work. If you’re looking to take in-person classes, many community colleges offer continuing education units (commonly referred to as CEUs). If you have a local Red Cross, they regularly provide continuing education courses for CNAs. If you have a local community college, many of those also offer CNA training, and some of them also offer CEUs. If they don’t offer continuing education, contact the instructor if possible, they may know where their former students go to earn credits. Some local hospitals will also allow non-employees to take continuing education courses for a fee for any open slots not filled by the CNAs on their staff.
Are there online CNA continuing ed courses?
If you live in a more remote area, or your schedule doesn’t allow for you to take a standard course schedule, there are online options available. In fact, there are even some opportunities for free CNA continuing education courses online. It’s important to research these online courses prior to spending time or money to make sure the provider is accredited in your state.
How much do CEUs cost?
While some nurse aides have the option of free continuing education, that’s not the case for everyone. Fortunately, most paid online courses are relatively inexpensive. Some websites offer a yearly subscription which allows you to take an unlimited number of courses for as little as $20 annually.
Here are some online providers of accredited CNA continuing education courses:
Why is continuing education required for CNAs?
Being a successful certified nursing assistant requires a lot of knowledge. To successfully deal with patients, co-workers, it’s vitally important that CNAs stay aware of the latest information on medical advancements, wellness, and patient care. This is why continuing education is a legal requirement of doing the job. Continuing education helps keep nursing assistants up to date on many critical, ever-changing subjects including:
- Personal and patient safety
- Infectious disease
- Data collection and reporting
- Mental health care
Working in healthcare comes with an obligation of becoming a lifelong student to better serve your patients and provide you a long, fulfilling career.