A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional with a certification who works directly with a registered nurse to provide hands-on care to hospital patients, nursing home residents, and private clients.
It's a rewarding career that offers the opportunity to help others within your community while earning a living for your own household.
The skills and knowledge you gain while earning a CNA certification may even help you to enrich the health and lifestyles of your friends and loved ones.
Here's everything you need to know about job opportunities, duty expectations, and CNA certification:
1. CNA Opportunities
One of the best things about earning a CNA certification is that there are a variety of settings to work in. Hospitals are always in need of quality CNA's to join their team, but they aren't the only facilities hiring.
Here are a few options that may appeal to you:
- Nursing Homes
- Private Residences
- Day Care Centers
- Urgent Care Clinics
Staffing agencies also tend to hire those with a CNA certification for both short and long term assignments. The truth is that you can find a job as a CNA anywhere nurses work who need assistants.
When it comes to job security, it all comes down to your dedication and commitment to excellence. If you are serious about earning a CNA certification, there will always be a nurse who can use your help.
Certified nursing assistants are not typically offered a salary. Most professionals make
between $10 and $16 an hour, even with years of experience under their belt.
This isn't a profession to be pursued for the money only!
However, quality health and medical benefits are usually part of the deal which adds to the value of the position.
Other perks to look forward to include excellent overtime compensation, paid holidays, and even retirement compensation plans.
These perks combined with the flexibility of being able to work in the setting you prefer and the opportunity to give back to the community, you'll find that working as a CNA is an exciting and worthwhile career.
2. CNA Job Duties
As a certified nursing assistant, you will be responsible for a host of hands-on services such as taking vital signs, measuring height and weight, and cleaning rooms. Other important tasks that certified nursing assistants are typically responsible for include:
- Physical Therapy
- Helping Elderly Patients Get Around
- Changing Bed Pans and Catheters
- Changing and Feeding Patients
Sometimes offering camaraderie by reading to patients or helping them with hobbies that they're interested in is part of the job description, especially in private home settings.
As a CNA, you will be responsible for communicating all problems or concerns about patients to your supervising nurse, and you will often work as a liaison for your patients.
3. Getting CNA Certification
To get started in this career, you'll need to become CNA certified. Nursing homes, technical colleges, private companies, and even the Red Cross offers training for aspiring certified nursing assistants.
Training can to take about four weeks if you attend full-time, and up to eight weeks if you only attend part-time.
You can expect your training to cost between roughly $800 and $1500 depending on the training facility you decide to work with.
It's important to ensure that the training facility you choose is registered with your state so you know that your CNA certification will be valid at all healthcare facilities statewide.
Correspondence training options offer basic knowledge about the job overall, but they aren't approved by state agencies so they shouldn't be used as a replacement for in-person training.
However, they do act as a great training tool above and beyond certification training. Here are some of the things you'll learn during certification training:
- Infection Control
- Medical Terminology
- Patient Relations
- Documentation and Communication Skills
There is a lot of reading involved in training, and quizzes will be administered throughout to ensure that you understand and retain the knowledge being taught.
These quizzes should be taken seriously, because they will prepare you for taking a required competency test upon completion of your training.
This test is monitored by your state and is designed to make sure that you have all the qualifications and skills needed to care for a variety of patients and in a variety of settings. There are two parts to the test—the first part is written and the second part is clinical.
The written portion of the test is straight forward and can be practiced for with the help of websites like Pearson Vue Test Taker Services.
The clinical phase involves bringing a friend to the testing facility to act as your patient who you will provide care for.
The clinical testing phase will give you an opportunity to demonstrate the skills you've acquired during training such as infection control, wheelchair transferring, and even bed making skills.
Passing both of these testing phases earns you a CNA certification and the opportunity to start a lucrative and rewarding career.