How to Become a CNA

Do you have the passion to help and care for patients? Do you want to work with nurses, doctors, therapists, and other members of the health staff? If your answer is yes, then being a Certified Nursing Assistant might be the right job for you.

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a member of the health care team who often deals with seniors. They also take care of patients from other age groups. The main task of a CNA is to assist patients incapable of eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting on their own. Acquiring the patient’s height and weight measurements as well as vital signs is also part of a CNA’s job.

As a CNA, you will find your job challenging but emotionally rewarding. Becoming a CNA is a means to complete nursing school and eventually become a registered nurse. This blog will tackle everything you need to know on how to become a CNA.

Training is a requirement on becoming a CNA. The first part is the classroom training wherein you will be educated on the theories of this practice. After completing this part, you will proceed to the clinical training where in you will be applying the concepts you have learned in the first part.

Requirements to Enroll for Training and to Become a CNA

Some people may use the career path of a CNA to become a nurse in the future. Some people like to remain in this occupation because of the satisfaction that they feel. In order to start your training on how to become a CNA, here are the prerequisites:

  1. A high school diploma must be presented to enroll for the training. However, there are cases wherein a person can enroll for the training even while studying high school. He must acquire his GED and must be enrolled in a fully accredited vocational school. Acceptance to the training also requires a person to be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Once enrolled, the individual must be able to complete both classroom and clinical training. The pace and the duration of the training vary by institute.
  3. After the completion of the training, the individual will have to take a test in the state where he plans to work. The test he will take will be a state certification. After the test is cleared, a drug test and criminal history evaluation will be performed.

Where to Acquire Training and What to Expect in the Training

You can acquire training on how to become a CNA offline or online. Traditional classes may take up to six weeks to complete. There are full time and evening courses. Online courses are more flexible as compared to offline ones. When you enroll online, your training progress will depend on the pace you choose to follow.

This approach may take as fast as 2 weeks to up to 4 weeks. This setup is most suitable for those who have current occupations or educational undertakings or those who have children.

The training on how to become a CNA is composed of two parts: classroom and clinical training. The classroom training involves oral teaching where in you will learn the concepts on patient care. The teaching materials come in forms of lectures, slide shows, and audio clips.

The second part of the training is the clinical training. You, along with other students, will be hands-on in learning through in health care centers or medical agencies. You will be under the supervision of a registered nurse.

While the setup for traditional and online classes is widely different, the coverage in the classroom training is quite the same. The variation lies on the second part since clinical training will require students studying online to manage their own training program and timetable in clinics or hospitals.

What is a CNA Certification?

Some people wonder if certification is a must. Yes, it is. Once you have completed the training, you will take a state certification test to gauge your knowledge in the different aspects of patient care. The certification test is a credential that you must acquire in order to practice your career.

After 5 years have elapsed, you will need to renew your certification to ensure your competence in your field of work. The exam is conducted by a recognized state association. The test has two parts, the first being a series of multiple-choice questions. The second part will be a practical exam.

Coverage of the Training

You will learn many things during the training. You will be able to expand your knowledge on the following:

Patient Care
Patient and Resident Rights
Medical Unit Environment
Patient Room Maintenance
Legal Matters especially those concerning CNAs

More and broader topics may be discussed depending on the institution where you are enrolled and the health care center you are practicing at.

The Cost of Investing in CNA Training

The cost of training on how to become a CNA is one of the pressing concerns among individuals. On the average, you will need to prepare $300 for the training course. However, there are opportunities where you can get it for as low as $100 to $200 on regional occupation programs.

If you are looking for a completely free training program, you can search for training providers that offer on-the-job CNA training in exchange for an agreed period of employment with them.

Salary Concerns in Being a CNA

Individuals inquiring on how to become a CNA will be all ears when it comes to how much they will receive when they start working. CNAs may receive a salary ranging from $17,000 to over $30,000 annually depending on where they will work. On the average, a CNA’s salary is situated at $25,140. The biggest salary a CNA can receive is around $35,730 when working for the federal government.

Based on 2010 statistics, a CNA receives $24,250, on the average, for working on a nursing care facility. Community care facilities provide around $23,430 per annum for their CNAs. In hospitals, CNAs are paid an average of $26,770 per year. The rates vary by state.

Work Settings of a CNA

The federal government requires the participation of CNAs in the nursing home community. However, there are other settings wherein CNAs can work through that are not mandated by the federal government. Here are other places where CNAs can find jobs:

Home Health Care Agencies
Doctor Offices
Day Care Centers
Medical Clinics
Urgent Care Centers
Assisted Living Facilities
Staffing Agencies

The Differences between RN, CNA, and HHA

Registered nurses (RN), certified nursing assistants (CNA), and home health aides (HHA) vary from each other. The RN has the highest salary among the three. They also have more responsibilities to undertake.

A registered nurse operates under the directions of the medical doctor only. He performs complicated medical procedures ordered by the doctor. On the other hand, the CNA is under the supervision of the RN. He is in charge of getting physical measurements as well as the vital signs of the patient. His main workload is helping patients use the toilet, eat, bathe, exercise, and so on.

The tasks of the HHA are very similar to the CNA. However, they have one other thing to take care of– medicine administering. While RNs and CNAs can work in a variety of settings, HHAs are only responsible for patient care at home.

When it comes to education, both CNAs and HHAs must complete a training program. The training on how to become a CNA may last from 2 to 6 weeks. An HHA’s training only spans a minimum of 40 hours. Being a registered nurse is very different when it comes to education. An aspiring RN needs to acquire a 4-year degree in nursing and pass the licensure exam to become a registered nurse.

The Market Demand for CNAs

The aged population is increasing, as people are now living a longer life span. Living longer may mean that a person will experience more complications with his bodily system and will need assistance in order to perform his daily routine such as bathing, eating, exercising, and toileting. This reality improves the market for certified nursing assistants and home health aides.

Benefits of Being a CNA

Not many people can cope with the challenges of performing non-medical duties to patients. But for those who have developed the passion, patience, and understanding for the pain and frustration that patients feel, the tasks associated with the job can be a delight.

Knowing how to become a CNA is not just a matter of learning the concepts and being able to apply them accurately, but also a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of the patient so that you would know how much they need the assistance of people like you.

The responsibilities of a CNA is not fit for individuals who are looking for easy jobs, as being a CNA surely takes a lot of hard work. Being a CNA is emotionally rewarding, which makes people who follow this career path deeply immersed in their job.

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