What Do CNA Courses Cover?

The average approved, certifying CNA course is 120 hours long. The CNA learns the basic skills of care, comfort, and communication. A basic CNA course is divided into classroom learning and clinical experience.

Classroom Learning

In the classroom one learns the principles of patient care including but not limited to: patient rights and privacy, documentation and reporting, infection control, anatomy, healthcare team responsibilities, scope of practice, procedures and protocols, and least restrictive environments (LRE).

Patient Rights and Privacy

The guarding of patient information is critical wherever one works, so a nursing assistant will be carefully trained in this matter. The laws governing patient rights and privacy were established under the second incarnation of the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act, known by all health care workers as HIPAA. Facilities take HIPAA very seriously, as they are tested annually on their compliance with HIPAA. If the facility is not in HIPAA compliance, it can lose its accreditation and can be shut down. Therefore, as a facility employee, one must be completely familiar with HIPAA guidelines and practices which include privacy of all written, verbal, and documented communication regarding the patient and/or his treatment. Ignorance of HIPAA can result in a complaint against the CNA by patient or staff members which could result in suspension or loss of license. Even a casual remark in an inappropriate setting can result in a complaint or investigation. Part of the annual compliance test is observing the CNAs at work as to their personal compliance with the act.

Documentation and Reporting

In addition to safeguarding information, the trainee will be taught proper observation, documentation, and recording methods. Increasingly, these documents and reports are recorded and generated by computer, so computer skills will likely be an important part of one’s training, especially in a school setting.

Infection control

Infection control procedures are a critical part of the CNA’s training, as the spread of infection impacts the entire facility, not only the patient, but all staff and visitors as well. The CNA will be carefully trained how to prevent the spread of infectious disease through cleanliness, isolation, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).


Basic anatomy will be covered in the CNA coursework in order to understand the disease process, and how the CNA’s handling of the patient and routine care are best approached.

Healthcare Team Responsibilities and Scope Of Practice

Learning ones role in the healthcare team, and the limitations of ones practice are essential in providing full, knowledgeable care for the patient. The CNA’s scope of practice refers to the tasks within his or her certified skill set. It is important to know one’s scope of practice as defined by one’s State Board of Nursing in order to protect him or herself, the patient, and the nurse.

Procedures And Protocols

A large portion of the CNA’s training will be devoted to learning specific care procedures and protocols (the order in which things are done).

Least Restrictive Environments (LREs)

Learning about LREs teaches the CNA to remain within facility and legal guidelines governing the patient’s environment. This will include such things as learning when bed rails must, can, and cannot be used; learning the best practices for handling difficult or combative patients which will allow them the greatest amount of freedom with the least amount of injury to themselves and others.

    Clinical Experience

    In the clinical portion of the training, the trainee will learn body mechanics; patient movement, including transfer, transportation, and range of motion; comfort and care procedures such as peritoneal care, changing an occupied bed; safety and preventive care, such as preventing skin breakdown, fall prevention, hazard avoidance; personal protective equipment; handling laboratory specimens within the CNAs scope of practice; activities of daily living (ADL) assistance, and other procedures as necessary.