The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credential is intended to give nurses the assistance required to provide the best possible quality of basic healthcare to patients, whether that be in a nursing home, hospital, rehabilitation centre or adult day-care centre – or even in a private visit to the home of the patient concerned. A CNA may work in just about any sector of the healthcare industry, and their day to day responsibilities will usually revolve around feeding patients, moving them from place to place as well as assisting patients in going to the toilet.
Where can I get CNA Training?
One potential source for CNA training is the Red Cross, but you may also find classes at one of the community colleges in your region. Between the institutions that offer classes there is wide variation in the cost of the education. Some nursing homes will indeed offer the relevant training classes at no cost, depending on the eligibility of the student – something that you should certainly check out especially if you want to have training that is hands-on and gives you a full appreciation of what the job entails.
A good idea is to call around the various institutions in your area asking them what they offer in terms of CNA qualifications. There will be many options available to you and if you feel that you might qualify for free CNA training you should make the local nursing homes your first port of call. Not everyone will qualify for the free training classes – but it is worth checking to see whether or not you do, as the free training permits some people to become CNAs who would otherwise not have had the opportunity.
How long should I expect the training to take?
The length of the training program will be dependent on where you train. CNA training can take between two and six weeks if the classes are taken within a healthcare institution – but if done through the Red Cross or a community college may take between six and nine months. Once you have obtained CNA qualifications, it is necessary to renew the certification in order to stay up to date with the changes that happen within the nursing sector.
What can I expect from CNA training?
CNA training seeks to emphasise the full range of what the nursing industry entails by focusing on both theoretical and practical skills, making use of clinic and laboratory sessions. These sessions are focused on passing on the knowledge that gives students a basis on which they can build so that they may offer the best health care possible for patients whose conditions may vary considerably. Theory is also vitally important, given that a nursing assistant needs to be fully up to speed with the common terminology of the medical sector – without this knowledge they will find nursing to be impossible.
CNA training will also place a focus on the varying health issues that are common among people in nursing homes and looks both at how such conditions are managed and also how they can be prevented from occurring at all. Certified Nursing Assistant Training also includes learning how to keep filing records up to date and how to maintain a record of the care given to every patient – in order to maintain the standards which are expected industry-wide.
In recognition of the fact that certified nursing assistant work may well entail dealing with patients suffering from terminal or potentially fatal conditions, CNA training also teaches standard life support techniques and emergency responses such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
While in training, CNAs are trained in how to carry out necessary practices such as using bedpans, giving bed baths and also learn how to move a patient without either aggravating injuries or causing (or increasing) pain to the patient. Certified Nursing Assistants are also expected to know how to perform physiotherapy exercises as well as how to check a patient’s vital signs.
In the later stages of their CNA training students are assigned to a clinic or other healthcare facility to receive more involved, hands on training where they are expected to apply the practices they have learned in CNA classes in the “real world”.
Requirements for CNA training
Before candidates are accepted onto CNA certification programs they must show that they fulfil certain requirements that reflect their ability to follow the training.
- Physical fitness: The certified nursing assistant careers involve a lot of physical effort, and to show that they are ready for this career students must have the ability to lift and push heavy objects as well as being able to remain standing for hours at a time. A CNA’s general health and fitness is therefore of vital importance, and it is essential that they must not have any condition that will prevent them from being efficient in the job.
- General health: Students must undergo a health exam before they commence training as it is important to know that they will be able to complete the classes satisfactorily; additionally it is also important to know that they will not pose a contamination risk to patients. Such illnesses as hepatitis, tuberculosis and measles are all immensely contagious and, in a setting where patients are likely to have lowered levels of immunity these conditions could be lethal. Often it will be demanded that students are immunized to such conditions before training begins.
- Criminal Records check: CNA classes will require students to complete a background check that ascertains whether they have a criminal record. In addition, they must provide proof of identification along with an up to date photo. This screening is essential given the sensitivity of the work environment where a CNA will work.
- Communication skills: It is a basic and fundamental prerequisite that participants in CNA training are able to communicate clearly and understandably. Clear communication is essential in dealing with patients and their families as well as work colleagues at all levels, and the ability to communicate unambiguously is a bottom line for new students.
- Educational requirements: To become a CNA it is typically required that you have graduated from high school, and have proof of your high school diploma. Further to this it is generally required that you demonstrate the ability to read and perform mathematics competently.
- Psychological readiness: Certified nursing assistant work has the potential to be emotionally draining and upsetting, as there is inevitably the potential for patients to deteriorate in condition and in some cases die even when the medical team has done everything they possibly could. Before beginning CNA training online it is essential that you ow that you understand these issues and that you are prepared to face them whenever they arise. It should be noted that conversely, the sense of job satisfaction can be very high.
The certified nursing assistant exam is taken on completion of the training and includes both a written and a practical exam.
Can You Gain CNA Training Online?
It is possible to sit the majority of your CNA certification programs online, although for obvious reasons it is still necessary to complete the practical portion of the course before you can be fully accredited and signed off to become a CNA. Online training may well be the best option for those candidates who want to go through the necessary training but do not have a suitable training institution close to home. It may also be the case that someone who wants to work as a CNA already has a job which takes up a lot of their time and prevents them from attending a CNA class due to time constraints.
It is understood that the need for CNAs will rise by anything up to forty per cent over the next two decades, so there is an immediate pressing requirement to get as many suitable candidates into training as possible. People who want to become a cna but have demands on their time will find that with the time constraints removed – whether it be that they are always working when the nearby institutions are holding classes, or simply that they prevent them from travelling to a class – they are able to complete the theoretical section of the course with some freedom.
You can make use of gaps in your schedule to do the work while at home, in a library or on your work breaks. By doing this you can get involved in one of the growing niches in the healthcare industry where talented people are needed and will become ever more valued as the population ages and more nurses and nursing assistants are required. Whether it be in a nursing home, a hospital or a doctor’s surgery there will always be a demand – so CNA qualifications are a valuable thing to have.
What Does Online CNA Training Entail?
Every state has certification requirements for a CNA before they can become fully accredited and work without extra restriction full time. The minimum restriction for a CNA is 75 hours of class time and sixteen hours of clinical work. The clinical work will be done in a hospital, a doctor’s surgery or a nursing home (or another medical setting) and will typically be arranged by the school whose distance learning program you enrol in to take the online CNA classes.
Because the 75 hours of class time cannot be carried out “in class”, they are incorporated into a structured program of distance learning (how it is structured will vary between providers). In order to enrol in the online course you will need to fulfil certain requirements:
- You must be eligible to sit the state Certified Nursing Assistant exam. Requirements for eligibility may vary between states but usually this will entail such requirements as being over the age of 18, a clean criminal record and good general health.
- You will need to have computer-based internet access in order to be able to complete the classes online and watch any videos.
- You must be competent in English – speaking, reading and writing the language.
The online classes will vary, but subjects covered include:
- The fundamentals of patient care
- Patient privacy
- Basic first aid
- Nutrition and feeding
- Medical terminology
- Nursing procedures
Online CNA classes will usually entail signing into a dedicated website and completing modules on each topic on the curriculum. Each module will include quizzes to help students prepare for the exam and show that they know the information that all CNAs are required to know.
In addition, many of these distance learning programs give access to practice copies of the certified nursing assistant exam so students can self-test.
The portion of the accreditation that involves practical work will be arranged with the accrediting institution, and you should be aware of how this is going to be carried out before you begin the online classes. Once you have completed the classes and the practical sessions you are then eligible to sit the state test and once it has been passed you can be listed on the state register for CNAs. You should also ascertain that the awarding institution is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), as a licence from one of these institutions is required if you wish to work as a Licensed Practice Nurse or Registered Nurse.
There are other factors you should look into when deciding which school to do the online classes with, such as the cost of the program, duration, how good they are at helping with the clinical work placement, and their success rate for passing the state exam. Additionally you should look for providers offering free CNA training and what the requirements are for being accepted onto a free course. You may also be able to qualify for some grant help which, although it may not cover all of the costs, will certainly defray some of the expense involved.
Further Help From Certified Nursing Assistant Books
CNA books can be very beneficial for people who are entering a CNA accreditation program. The first thing you need to bear in mind is that most programs will have their own specified textbooks that are a requirement for anyone sitting the course. Any books you buy over and above this will be merely an addition – albeit a very helpful addition if you choose the best books.
The best argument for buying supplemental books is that they will enhance what you learn in the classes themselves. There are many books available which will help you understand more about what the CNA role entails and what you will be required to do. Course textbooks, for their part, are designed specifically to furnish you with the medical and practical knowledge required to pass the exam and understand situations that you will face as a CNA. It is best to look for books written by someone with practical experience in the medical field.
If the books prescribed for the course are not published by Mosby or Lippincott, then it is a good idea to buy an additional textbook for your own purposes which has been. These names are held up to be the authority on health-related textbooks and there are some nursing programs which will not use a textbook by any other publisher.
Other books worth buying are ones which give a first-hand narrative of what a nursing assistant faces from day to day. There can be a tremendously steep learning curve for new CNAs which can leave you feeling as though you will be overwhelmed by the job, and this is not a pleasant feeling when you are trying to settle in. Reading stories from people who have been through this process will give you greater confidence that, whatever the job throws at you, you will be prepared to meet it head-on.
The final category of nursing assistant books which are worth purchasing are the exam preparation books – study guides which will help you practise for the exam and ensure that you are ready when you come to sit it. It is advisable to get hold of at least one of these study guides so that the exam itself holds no nasty surprises for you.
Going To Nursing School Abroad?
There is some debate over whether the best option may actually be to study abroad to gain a nursing qualification and then sit the exam in your state on returning to the US. The advantages of this process are that you gain experience of a different way of practising medicine and, often, the course itself will be cheaper. However, there are some disadvantages to training in a nursing school abroad, not least the fact that you may have to go through a long process of evaluation before the board in your home state decides that your transcript is sound.
Unless you are particularly enthusiastic about qualifying and learning abroad, or in a situation where it is the only option for you financially, it is better to qualify in the US and then start to earn a certified nursing assistant salary at home, as the clearing process can be long and drawn out.