Careers in health related fields have been growing for years and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) jobs are no exception. Estimates indicate that nursing assistant or nursing aide positions to grow at a rate of approximately 11% over the next 8 years. With a large group of the population growing older this often translates to an increase in health care needs. Individuals looking for opportunities to begin a career in the health industry and becoming a professional nursing assistant is an excellent job position. Many certified nursing assistants will continue their education, certifications and training to secure advanced job positions as licensed practical nurse (LPN), sometimes referred to as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), and even their registered nurse (RN) credentials. So you're not limited and you have career advancement opportunities if you're willing to dedicate the time to gaining the necessary education and training.
Nursing assistants work under the supervision of an LPN/LVN or RN. As a nursing assistant your job duties will be focused on providing the safety and general care for patients. Typical care could include taking the vitals of a patient and logging them in the patient's charts and records and reporting any changes or concerns to the next nursing assistant or a supervising RN. You may need to assist patients that have mobility issues to the restroom and basic needs like eating, brushing teeth or bathing. Basic cleaning duties such as emptying and cleaning bedpans, changing bed sheets and other light cleaning duties are also generally part of the job.
There are some physical requirements for the position as a nursing assistant. Patients will often need assistance getting in and out of bed or help to the bathing facilities. You will need to provide adequate assistance or get help if needed to care for the patient. Care and compassion are also good traits to bring to the job. You may be assisting the elderly or individuals recovering from serious injuries and being understanding of a patient's condition is important. An outgoing personality and a sense of humor won't hurt either. As a nursing assistant you're going to meet a lot of different people with different personalities and knowing how to adapt to those individuals will make the job much more rewarding.
To become a CRN there are some basic requirements for both federal and state. In addition the company you are seeking employment through may also have other education, skills, and certifications necessary to be able to qualify for the position. It's important that you read the job descriptions and check with your local and federal agencies to ensure you have the proper requirements. Most commonly an individual will need to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. State and federal law requires the potential certified nursing assistant to complete a state approved training program and license examination for nurse aides. Check with your local community college, vocational or technical schools for education programs.
Training programs are generally short, only lasting about 8 weeks or so. Course may include subjects such as medical terminology, anatomy, pre- and post-operative processes, patient rights, incident logging and reporting, administering vital sign checks, and administrative functions to name a few. There will also be training hours (75 hours minimum) which will typically consist of both classroom learning and clinical training. The clinical training portion will allow you to get the hands on training under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. Clinical training will give practical experience in dealing with patients and further understanding of patient care, patient rights, and medical ethics. This experience will certainly help in passing your nursing exam. Again your state or employer may require specific certifications such as Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or Basic Life Support (BLS). Your state may also require you undergo a thorough background check and health screening or verification of vaccinations.
Once you have checked off the requirements you will need to apply with your state health department to complete your competency exam. After you have successfully passed your exam and verified your training hours, you will need to register with your state as a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA). When your registration is approved then you are ready to truly begin your career. As well you will have earned the right to use the CNA initials after your name.
Income for a CNA will vary by location and employment but on average salaries can exceed $26K a year. Finding jobs as a certified nursing aide may be available at your local retirement facilities, home health care opportunities, government and military positions, and hospitals. There are many different job opportunities for a qualified CNA. Plus you're providing such a critical role in our health care process and hopefully that in itself will provide its own personal gratification.