CNA training classes are available from many community colleges as well as the Red Cross. The cost of the program varies from $400 to $1000. One can however receive free training through some nursing homes where the CNA training is provided on condition of assisting in the home. The duration of CNA training also varies with the course taking 2 to 6 weeks in medical care schools and community colleges while the Red Cross program takes anywhere from 6 to 9 months. The CNA certificate must be renewed every year if the nursing assistant would like to continue practicing.
Based on a 2009 survey by Salary.com, the median pay for a certified nursing assistant was between $24,700- $29,800. Top earners make well over $30,000. Compensation varies depending on experience and the institution and area one is employed in.
Requirements to join a CNA training program
There are usually a number of requirements one must fulfill before they can be accepted in a CNA training class.
- Personality and fitness requirements- Due to the physically straining nature of the job, nursing assistants must be comfortable with lifting and pushing heavy weights and be ready to stand for long periods. Like any other healthcare professional, nursing assistant must have a thick skin and strong emotional control given that he or she will sometimes be nursing people under great pain, disfiguring disease and serious injury. In addition, good communication skills at all times are necessary to ensure that interactions with patients, the patient’s family and co-workers are reflect the highest levels of professionalism.
- Background clearance and health requirements – Before one enrolls for CNA training classes, they may be required to provide permission for a thorough background check that can establish they have no criminal record. Nursing assistants must be screened give the highly sensitive nature of the job. Also, a physical exam must be conducted to make sure the nursing assistant is in good health and that they are not carriers of highly contagious diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, and measles. Some patients will have low immune systems making them especially vulnerable to infection. The physical exam must be followed by immunization of students where applicable.
- Educational Requirement- The basic educational requirement for CNA training is completion of high school diploma. This may however be different from one jurisdiction to another. One’s grades must show competence in math and reading skills.
CNA training curriculum
As a healthcare profession, CNA training classes include both theoretical and practical sessions. Practical sessions take place towards the end of the CNA training course in real world environment such as clinics, nursing homes and hospitals in the vicinity.
The course content equips the nursing assistant with the skills to handle people suffering from different medical conditions. Basic nursing terminology is also taught. The nursing assistants are instructed on the main health issues that affect a certain demographic (for instance, older people in nursing homes) and how to manage and prevent them. How to document patient files and keep track of the care given to each as per standard health care procedures is another fundamental part of the CNA training curriculum.
The nursing assistant is taken through the equipment used for life support and also train on emergency response techniques such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The course looks at how to use bed pans and give bed baths as well as how to move patients safely. Basic physiotherapy training on a number of important motion exercises is also included as is the different methods for checking vital signs.
On completion of the training program, the nursing assistant sits for the CNA training exam which has both written and practical sections. Through the exam, the students prove their understanding of theory and their competence in putting into principles learnt.
Benefits of CNA training
- Cheaper education – The cost of a nursing degree education today is rather high and not many people can afford it. In addition, some healthcare facilities such as nursing homes cannot pay top dollar for fully trained nurses. CNA training thus benefits students due its relatively cheap cost and at the same time benefits lower cost healthcare facilities allowing them to hire affordable staff.
- Avenue for career advancement – Certified nursing assistant jobs are a great entry point for more advanced study and training in nursing and many other healthcare professions. Furthermore, top performing CNA training students can get financial aid to pursue more advanced nursing courses.
- Increased demand -The opportunities of the nursing assistant continues to grow due to the burgeoning aging population who increasingly need professional nursing care. There is significant job security due to the scarcity of training nursing assistants when compared to the demand. And the more experience the nursing assistant acquires, the better the jobs they can get.
- Opportunity to help others – A nursing assistant not only takes care of a patient’s physical well being but also emotional. There is a fulfillment that comes from helping people who cannot help themselves.
- Multiple work environments to choose from – Nursing assistants nurses can work in major hospitals, private homes, homes for the retired, nursing homes etc. Working hours are also flexible and do not have to be a fixed 9 to 5.
- Quick training program- With the shorter CNA training programs taking as little as two weeks, this means one can immediately start work very quickly and begin raking in an income.