What is a CNA?
A CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant. They work as part of the healthcare team alongside doctors and nurses. CNAs are primarily responsible for personal care duties, such as bathing, assisting patients with comfort as well as dialysis or similar processes.
What are prerequisites to becoming a CNA?
There are usually no prerequisite courses required prior to entering a CNA program; there is simply an age requirement, which most often is 18 years of age. In some states, a person as young as 16 can become a CNA as the CNA program may be offered in high schools.
Most CNA programs are offered at the community college level or at a technical school. In some cases, people with certain criminal records, may be barred from pursuing a CNA qualification. Each state will have specific requirements. Upon completing the CNA training, students are usually required to take a state-level exam to earn a certificate. The exam may be delivered in a computerized, pen and paper or even oral format depending on the state.
How long are CNA programs?
Most CNA programs are one to five months depending on the location and program format. Intensive programs can require as little as two weeks of study. Part-time programs which accommodate working professionals are also available. While some Certified Nursing Assistant programs are offered as part of a college certificate program to enrolled students, others are offered through community education programs, in which any local community member can enroll upon paying the course fee. Lower cost training programs are available at hospitals or through the Red Cross in certain states.
As with other nursing related programs, the CNA course may be delivered in a hybrid format with classes offered online and during the week. In some cases, students may be required to coordinate training with an off-campus facility, which may lengthen the time of the course.
Some CNA programs are combined or offered in conjunction with programs for Home Healthcare Aides, which have similar duties to the Certified Nurse Assistant with the exception that they work primarily in the home setting. Most CNA programs cost $500-$1000. In some states, prospective Certified Nursing Assistants can obtain on-the-job training in exchange for committing to work at the training facility for a period of time. This is also the case for some RN programs. Calling around to local healthcare facilities is the easiest way to determine if a free CNA training program exists in the area.
Where can I work as a CNA?
CNAs can work in hospitals, assisted living facilities, and usually anywhere that nurses can obtain a job. Working in a home healthcare setting is also a viable option. Checking classified ads for local families seeking to hire a caregiver for an elderly loved one is also a means to finding employment as a CNA.
What other careers can CNAs do?
Becoming a CNA is a common path to start a nursing career. Most Certified Nursing Assistants make $12,000 to $15,000 annually and can pursue additional courses in nursing while they are working as a CNA.