Nurse Types / CNA
Everybody starts somewhere. The certified nursing assistant position is an entry-level position for individuals who wish to explore the healthcare field.
Certified nursing assistants provide a vital role for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. The position also allows a potential nurse a peek into the profession.
In this blog we will examine the following:
- What is a CNA?
- What does a CNA do?
- Where do CNAs work?
- How do you become a CNA?
- How much does a CNA earn?
- Reasons to start your career in healthcare as a CNA
- What is the career outlook for CNAs?
What is a CNA?
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is an entry-level healthcare professional who assists with patients’ immediate and day-to-day needs within a medical setting. They work under a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse’s (LPN) supervision.
CNAs are also often known as Nursing Assistants, Nurse’s Aid or Patient Care Assistants.
People become CNAs for a variety of reasons. Some individuals seek it as a bridge position while completing the requirements to become an LPN or RN. However, it provides an excellent opportunity for a nurse to learn more about the profession.
What Does a CNA Do?
CNAs provide a wide variety of services to their patients. The main activities they help the patient with are bathing, eating and mobility. They also help nurses check patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and pulse rate.
The CNA does not provide advanced medical practices. They need to alert a more senior nurse to perform those duties
The principal duties of a CNA include:
- Assisting patients with sanitation, like bathing
- Taking vital signs and alerting nursing to warning signs such as changes in blood pressure or signs of an infection
- Helping patients with their mobility, which could involve helping them get out of bed or change positions in bed
- Grooming patients by brushing their teeth, shaving, clipping their toenails
- Answering patient calls
Altogether, CNAs help patients in myriad ways to stay healthy and provide vital assistance to registered nurses.
Where do CNAs work?
CNAs work in many kinds of settings. Generally, they tend to work in hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. CNAs can also work within urgent care facilities, doctor’s offices and community clinics.
Last, they can work as home health aides or at a hospice.
How do you become a CNA?
Unlike the other nursing professions, CNAs don’t need a college degree to begin in the field.
Certified nursing assistants have to enroll in and finish state and National League of Nursing Accredited Commission-approved training programs. The programs are found at local community colleges, high schools, local hospitals or vocational schools.
All the programs differ, so students need to research which ones best fit their needs.
After completing the CNA training, students have to pass a CNA certification examination. The exam contains two parts: a written and a practical component.
Students have 90 minutes to complete a written exam consisting of multiple-choice questions. The second portion is the clinical skills exam. The students will get tested on four random clinical skills to show their aptitude. They will have 30 minutes to finish this section of the exam. An observer examines this portion. Students will have 90 minutes to answer.
Additionally, the American Red Cross provides a training and certification course for potential CNAs. The learning environment is a hybrid of digital and classroom learning.
To qualify for the class, you must:
- Attend the orientation
- TABE (reading and math assessment) or verification of High School diploma or GED
- Red Cross criminal background check
- Completion of Red Cross physical form and TB test
After you pass your CNA certification exam, you’re ready to start working in the nursing field.
How much does a CNA earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average CNA salary is $33,250 a year. Their salary depends on the region in which they live, their experience, and the healthcare setting.
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Reasons to start your career in healthcare as a CNA
Many people who work in healthcare say the best nurses started out as CNAs! Starting out as a certified nursing assistant is a great way to get your feet wet and make sure you can really see yourself working as a nurse.
As we mentioned previously, CNAs work directly with registered nurses. This hands-on experience is sure to make nursing school easier, as you are already familiar with some of the practices and procedures.
Another sweet perk is sometimes, your employer will offer to pay for you to further your education. This is a huge financial relief to a lot of nurses. It’s also a great way to still make money while getting relevant experience while you’re in nursing school.
What is the career outlook for CNAs?
The demand for CNAs will only grow as the population ages. The BLS projects that between 2019 and 2029, the need for CNAs will grow 8%, which is faster than the average job growth rate.
Though the CNA position is a great opportunity on its own, it also serves as a path toward a career in nursing or other healthcare areas. Individuals who start as CNAs can use the skills they acquire to eventually become a nurse.
CNAs may learn that they have a passion for working in the healthcare profession but don’t enjoy direct patient care. Though CNAs don’t make as much as other nurses, there is a path to move up within the profession. There are many opportunities for CNAs such as healthcare administrators or nurse educators.
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