Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Overview
Nursing aide or commonly known as CNA is a title given for nursing professionals who provide day- to-day bed side care for patients or elderly people. CNAs work under supervision of licensed nurses such as: LPN or RN. Common working places for CNA are hospitals, nursing homes and long term care centers. Even though nurse aides commonly referred as CNA, they also have the following titles: nursing assistants, geriatric aides, unlicensed assistive personnel, orderlies, or hospital attendants. So don’t get confused by these titles, they all mean almost the same thing.
There is minimal entry requirement to become CNA. Training and certification of CNA is a breath to complete and usually doesn’t cost much as well. In fact there are a lot of options one can get the training for free. A typical CNA training program last for two weeks (it may even take less than that and some course may last as long as 12 weeks) and the cost may vary from school to school but the most expensive training will not cost more than $1000. The training is usually offered in high schools, vocational or technical schools, some nursing care centers may also provide the course, and some community colleges also provide the training.
There isn’t much to learn in CNA programs as it is a true entry level profession. A typical CNA training program curriculum may include the following courses:
- Body mechanics
- Anatomy and physiology,
- Infection control,
- Communication skills, and
- Personal care skills (these set of skills include: how to help patients bathe, eat, and groom themselves, etc)
Candidates must be physically capable of handling the job. Usually a weight lifting capacity of 5olb is required. In addition to that you must also be free from the following disease: TB, Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and varicella. You need to produce proof of Immunizations as well.
In addition to the health related requirements, you also need to meet the following educational requirements:
- you should have high school diploma or GED,
- pass any reading & writing competency test you may be asked to take by the training facility,
- you should have clean criminal record.
After successful completion of the state approved training program, you need to take the cna certification exam admitted by your State’s board of nursing. Upon passing the exam, your name will be entered into registry of nursing aides and you can start work right away. There is some fee associated with the certification process but the exact number varies from state to state. You can get that information from our state board of nursing directory. All CNAs need to renew their certification every two years and there is some fee associated with the renewal as well. Unlike other licensed nurses, CNAs don’t need to complete continuing education to get their certificate renewed; however, you should work a specific number of hours during the two year period as a paid nurse aide in one of the healthcare facilities as stated by state BON.
- Answers patient call lights
- Bathes, dresses and undresses patients
- Tidies patients’ room, changes soiled linen
- Assists with personal hygiene
- Serves meals, water and snacks
- Feeds patients who need help
- Transports patients, helps patients walk
- Takes and records temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure
- Records food and liquid intake and output
- Collects specimens; urine, stool, sputum
- Performs procedures including Heimlich maneuver, isolation, Universal Precautions, gait belt, post mortem care
- Observes and reports unusual conditions
- Measures height and weight using bed, chair and balance scales
If you are in need of job and if you are a caring and compassionate person, CNA can be a great job for you. As mentioned above, it is an entry level job and career advancing options are in abundant. The pay may not be that great at the start but CNA is a godsend, if you need a job with minimal entry requirements and low investment in money and time.