What is a CNA?
A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, is a vital role on any nursing team. A CNA provides direct care to patients while under the careful supervision of a nurse. They play an integral part of a healthcare team by assisting with physical and sometimes complicated responsibilities for patient care. Some of these responsibilities include feeding, bathing, repositioning, and transferring patients. Other tasks a CNA may be responsible for include documentation, safety procedures, checking vital signs, and assisting with minor medical procedures. In addition to utilizing their skills, it is important for a CNA to provide compassion and empathy while communicating with their patients. Without the help of a CNA, not only would nurses struggle to complete all of their work, but patient care would also suffer.
Becoming a CNA requires finding a certified CNA training course. We’ll tell you what that entails and fill you in on how long a CNA program typically lasts.
Steps to Become a CNA
The steps to become a CNA are pretty simple and are usually broken up into 3 parts in standard CNA training programs:
Upon successful completion of a program, students will be eligible to then sit for the certified nursing assistant competency exam.
During the theory part of training, students will be introduced to many of the aspects of patient care. These include subjects such as basic fundamentals, patient safety, infection control, providing direct patient care, documentation, cognitive function, end of life care, and legal/ethical issues. This first step is an integral part of the training process and lays the groundwork for all the training that continues after.
Next comes the lab portion of training. This hands on training teaches direct patient care by often practicing on other students or instructors. Students will get the change to practice taking vital signs such as respiratory rate, pulse rate, temperature, and even blood pressure. They will also get the chance to practice repositioning and transferring patients, and personal care such as feeding, bathing, and grooming. This not only helps students to become comfortable in performing these tasks, but it also gives them a chance to empathize with how a patient may feel while being cared for.
After the lab training, students will get the chance to practice all their new learned skills on real patients in a clinical setting while under the careful eye of their instructors. This is usually done in a long-term care facility that has been approved by the state. Students will usually begin with just 1 or 2 patients and work their way up to a full patient load.
Finally, students will be eligible to sit for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program examination. Although there are some states that do not require an assessment, most states require trainees to pass this exam. The exam consists of several parts including a written component, an oral component, and a demonstration component. Successful completion of this exam will provide the trainees with a CNA license. A CNA license is essential and will often be required to apply and accept some jobs.
How Long Is A CNA Program?
Because a CNA is considered an entry level job with a nurse overseeing work, the requirements for certification are not as lengthy and demanding as some of the other education requirements in the healthcare field. The United States government has passed a federal law stating that the obligatory training hours to become a CNA are set at a minimum of 75 hours. This 75 hour requirement must consist of at least 24 hours of hands-on clinical training and 51 classroom hours.
How long it takes to get your CNA license largely depends on your program and state. Although 75 hours are required, many courses may take up to 120 hours to complete full training. Depending on the type of program you choose and the type of facility you plan to pursue a career in, the training will be completed within 4-12 weeks.
Types of CNA Training
The types of CNA training available can vary by state.. In some states, CNAs can train while on the job. Other states require a more formal schedule of coursework to be completed in order to become a CNA. Formal CNA training courses can take place in vocational schools, community colleges, and even in some high schools. Formal classes can also take place in hospitals and nursing homes. Some hospitals and nursing homes even offer training as a CNA in exchange for working within their facility for several years. This formal training will be a combination of hands-on clinical training and theory learning within a classroom.
Some states also offer the option of an online CNA course. These courses give the flexible option to learn all the theoretical topics within the comfort of their own home. In addition to the online coursework, students will also need to practice in a clinical setting under the direction of an RN to complete their training.
No matter the type of CNA training that is chosen, they all lead to the same outcome-a well-rounded and competent certified nursing assistant.
Certified nursing assistants do an incredibly important job. The job of a CNA is also a great stepping stone in a medical career path. With the option to complete training in as little as 4 weeks, becoming a CNA is a great opportunity. Explore nearby training programs or the CNA certification requirements in your state to start the journey to a rewarding and compassionate service of healthcare.