Certified Nursing Assistant Training
The health care field is a dynamic career choice, and nursing assistant is a specific career that can lead to advancement into other lucrative positions in the rapidly growing medical industry. Nursing assistants can complete their training in under a year’s time, and once employed, many companies offer financial assistance for continued education while working full time. This career track is an excellent choice for people without significant resources, or those who need to start earning an income as quickly as possible.
Certified Nursing Assistant Accreditation
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) accreditation varies from state to state, but generally requires 75–150 hours of training, including classroom work and hands-on training in a hospital or clinical environment. The prerequisite for enrolling is a high-school diploma or equivalency degree (GED). There are many topics that courses cover, and nursing assistants may elect to qualify for a CNA certificate or associate’s degree. The greater the training, the better the job opportunities will be.
Coursework includes training in lab technique, medical terminology, office procedures, and interpersonal skills for dealing with patients. Medical assistants provide 90 percent of patient care in assisted living facilities, and other long-term care situations. Nursing homes offer in-house training programs that allow students to earn money while learning, but require the students to agree to a certain length of employment after training.
Training provides the skills to handle multiple duties from accounting to pharmacology. Assistants will also get real-world training dealing with patients in a clinical setting. The classroom portion of the course can be completed online, making it convenient for people who must work while training. Courses are offered at career-specific training institutes, community colleges, vocational schools, and regular colleges and universities. The Red Cross also offers CNA training, as do many hospitals and clinics.
Personal Skills Needed for Nursing
Nursing assistants should be detail-oriented, but exhibit great interpersonal skills since they will often deal with sick patients who may be quarrelsome or difficult. Emotional stability and the ability to work as a team player are also very important qualifications. Compassion for the sick is vital because assistants routinely deal with terminally sick patients and the elderly. Mathematical skills are also helpful, because many medical assistants are required to make calculations and handle administrative tasks requiring familiarity with numbers. Strong communication skills are a definite plus for people pursuing a nursing career.
What Medical Assistants Do
Nursing assistants help medical staff perform many duties in hospitals and clinical settings. Duties might include serving meals, making beds, monitoring patients’ vital signs, changing bedpans, and helping patients dress or bathe. Medical assistants handle most anything from administrative chores to general patient care in hospitals, such as taking temperatures, blood pressure, and other diagnostic tests. Customer service is part of the job, and assistants often perform routine administrative tasks such as filing records, filling out insurance forms, arranging admissions, explaining treatment protocols to patients, recording vital signs and other duties. Working hours can be full or part time, but they usually include nights, weekends, and holidays, depending on the specific employer.
Courses Required for Certification
Specific CNA training courses might take only eight weeks to complete, and students must pass a comprehensive exam before they can be certified in some states. Courses include medical ethics, patient rights, anatomical knowledge, disease overview, post-operative care, clear communication skills, patient hygiene, and administrative training. Students in some cases might be required to complete courses in first aid, computer applications, laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and office practices including record-keeping and accounting.
Medical Training Centers Must be Accredited
Many venues such as vocational schools and online institutes offer nursing assistant training, but these schools must be accredited by one of two regulatory agencies: the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
CNA Salary Range and Opportunity for Advancement
The salary range compared to amount of training needed is relatively high for CNAs in all states. Starting pay is expected to increase by 18 percent by 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The range for entry-level positions may vary from $20,000–$30,000 annually, with most salaries beginning at $24,000. Hard-pressed medical organizations usually offer plenty of opportunities for overtime, holiday, and night work that can substantially raise base pay. Job opportunities are expected to rise substantially in the future, and home health-aide positions enjoy a projected growth rate of 49 percent, so job security is very high.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The physical and emotional stress of the job requires mature individuals who do not get flustered easily. CNA advancement opportunities are fairly limited, but the job has many fringe benefits for employees, including educational assistance for further training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). These positions have great advancement potential, and qualification results in an immediate pay increase of 50 percent or more.