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The role of a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, involves the direct care of patients. A CNA works alongside other healthcare professionals to ensure the service that is offered is exemplary. Most CNAs work directly with patients, this can include helping with bathing, using the bathroom, grooming, and other activities. Depending upon the type of facility, they may also be responsible for the monitoring of patient’s health.
CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. The job of CNA is to look after the patients and assist them with their health care needs. The typical responsibility of a CNA is to look after the patient’s condition and report back to nurses if they see any unusual developments. They also have to look after feeding of the patients, looking at vital signs and moving patients whenever required.
When it comes to healthcare, you will discover that certified nursing assistants or CNAs are some of the most important members of the health care staff.
Prior to looking at the tips and guidelines for finding and choosing the best CNA classes out there let’s, first of all, familiarize ourselves with what a CNA is. This, in turn, will enable us to comprehend the prerequisites for becoming a certified nurse assistant.
CNA is a medical acronym that stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. They are also known as Nursing Assistants (NA), Patient Care Assistants (PCA), or a State-Tested Nurse Aids. A CNA helps clients or patients with healthcare needs. In essence, they are the patient’s primary caregiver.
In practice, CNAs or NAs if you like, work under Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) or Registered Nurses (RN). CNA’s responsibilities vary based on the setting. You will often find them in hospitals, nursing homes, homes, care centers for the elderly, etc.
Basically, CNAs take care of the needs of patients, whether it’s in outpatient clinics or in nursing care residential facilities. As a conduit between patients and the nurse or doctor, a CNA records and reports all issues related to the patient, which may be, vital information about the patients’ condition, patient’s concerns, or any other issues.
Their passion to help the patient’s in their journey to recovery, works as a motivating factor, as their work is intense, fast-paced and most times physically and mentally draining. For most CNA’s it’s their compassion for people, which helps them get through difficult moments, and extremely long working hours, which often characterize the profession.
Certified Nurse Assistants are valued members of the medical community. They provide very important services to medical facilities; they simply couldn’t operate without them. But, did you know that there are several different types of CNA? Though the titles and job duties vary by state and even locality, a CNA has several choices when it comes to the way they want to specialize in their occupation or even how they market themselves.
The first decision that a CNA must make is what type of facility they would like to work in. Obviously, different places of employment will have varied types of orientation, and many do offer on the job training for practices specific to their environment. But an enterprising CNA who is willing to put in some extra work and possibly take extra classes can find themselves in much better positions and quite possibly even promotions that can come with pay raises and better benefits.
Some states have different categories for CNAs, levels which determine the types of care that they are able to dispense. Some states will allow higher levels of CNAs to hand out medicines or perform other more important tasks, like catheterizations. Should you want to take classes or use your experience to move up in the CNA ranks, check with your place of employment about available positions. Some facilities will even foot or split the bill for your education for a commitment of employment.
As some states have continuing education requirements, you may be required to take additional classes, so adding a few extra to not only renew your certification but to extend your experience and capability is a plus. Taking these extra courses on your own also shows your employer that you have the ability to take the initiative, and your efforts will likely be appreciated.
Some areas also have specialized training for specific types of facilities and, if you can take these training courses in your spare time, you will double or triple your ability to work in multiple facilities and situations.
You will also be more qualified to help patients and will be more knowledgeable in certain situations. Because you can handle more responsibility with the extra schooling, you may find yourself in a position to receive a pay raise. Your education plus your experience will also make you more attractive to prospective employers. It’s always great to be in demand!
Working as a certified nurse assistant is tough work, both physically and emotionally. Are you tough enough in both aspects to handle the job? Many new aides find that they are unable to work in the field for long, while others spend years working as CNAs and newer CNAs find these veterans to appear jaded.
The reason many CNAs that have been in the business for a few years seems jaded or even unemotional is that the job takes a toll on you. Many aides build emotional walls in order to continue working without having an emotional breakdown. It is a fact that people you care for will often move out of a facility to another or will even pass away. Sometimes they will pass on while you are on duty. Becoming attached to residents is inevitable for many CNAs, coping with the grief of losing a resident you care for on an emotional level can be devastating if you are not prepared to cope with this eventual outcome.
Often, new aides wonder if they have the ability to deal with the physical aspects of the job. There is a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling involved in the daily routine of a CNA. You will work not only lifting people, but in moving machinery such as lifts throughout your facility. It is important to be in good physical condition.
You will also face infectious diseases. Part of working in any healthcare facility in contact with people that have infectious diseases. These infections range from the common cold up to the AIDS virus. You must always be ready to deal with this by using proper barrier gear such as gowns, gloves, masks, and more.
Something that is not often talked about when you sign on to become a CNA is that you will deal with what most people consider ‘gross’ things daily. Urine, feces, vomit, and more. Nurse aides perform care for people that are unable to go to the bathroom or clean up after themselves. You must have or be able to develop a strong stomach. You should never appear to be in disgust when caring for a resident or patient that has soiled their body, clothing, or bed. They are already upset enough by losing control of their body functions, showing distaste towards your job will only further their shame and sadness.
Before you enter work each day, take a few moments to ready your mind. This can be accomplished by arriving to work a few minutes early and spending time in a break area with co-workers, reading in your car, or just by walking to work if you live close enough.
Every day when you work as a nurse aide you have new experiences. One day you may meet the grandmother or mother of a famous person. The next you may have a run of the mill day just changing soiled linens. Still the next day you may find yourself giving the final bath to a resident that has passed away.
Nurse aides experience many different types of situations that can change their lives. Working in this field gives you a larger understanding of how people feel and act when they are ill or disabled. It takes a compassionate soul to work with the old and even the dying.
As you spend time with these people, your view on life will expand. It becomes very clear that life is not quite as long as we humans think it is, that disability can strike anyone and that youth is fleeting. But the joy of working in service to those that need it is life-changing.
How often do you wake up and want to go to work? Some people can say that they wish they had never become an aide, others may say they wish they never stopped working in the field. It is truly a strange job – you either love it or you hate it. Those who love the job will forever stand in awe at the achievements they have made.
It may seem strange to think of working as a CNA as an accomplishment. It really is, though. Every day you have an effect on those around you. Someone who is in failing health can be made to feel a bit better by your care. An elderly man or woman that is depressed can be made happier by the touch of your hand or a smile.
While you may think that you just change briefs or feed people – you are creating a better life for the residents in your care. Some of these residents may not have family and you, along with your fellow staff, are these resident’s link to life. To social living. To happiness. You are their family and by spending your days with these people at the end of their lives, you are enriching your own.
Before you enter a formal training program, you should decide whether this career type is right for you. Being a nursing assistant is a demanding job that is not right for everyone. Therefore, ask yourself if helping others is something that you enjoy? Would you be comfortable with situations where you must invade the patient’s privacy in order to perform your work? Would long hours and night shifts be something that you would be able to handle?
Pursuing a career as a nursing assistant, you should be prepared to work both long and irregular hours like nights, holidays, and weekends. The need for CNAs is ever constant and sometimes does increase, thus this is a career that always has more openings. Some CNAs stay longer on their position, especially those working in care facilities for the elderly. Mostly because of the relationships they form with the patients. But some are worn out by the physical and emotional stresses of the job, thereby furthering their education in order to move to higher, less demanding roles.
CNAs or Certified Nursing Assistants are, in all practical sense, support staff for nurses. This doesn’t mean that they report to nurses at all times, but rather they perform duties to relieve RNs from some of their responsibilities. CNA’s duties at healthcare facilities such as nursing homes assisted living facilities or hospitals are extremely vital to the operation of a facility. Due to the fact that CNAs training is rather minimal, they do not have the same license to practice medicine as RNs do. CNAs may work under the supervision or alongside a registered nurse.
Tasks for CNA are in most cases similar in different settings. However, hospitals are usually fast-paced. Thus, working in hospitals can be emotionally and physically draining. But you get to gain more experience as you will be working in different departments. Again, when it comes to hospitals, patients get discharged quite fast. Thus, the CNA doesn’t spend much time with patients as in the case of elderly care centers or homes. Since everyone has unique career objectives and goals. You can weigh the pros and cons of different settings and choose one that matches your preferences.
Daily responsibilities and duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant employed at a medical facility may include assisting patients and facility residents with washing and grooming, delivering meals and helping to assist them while eating, providing support while going to the bathroom, changing linen and gowns and sending them down to the laundry, assisting in the sterilization of medical equipment, garbage disposal, etc.
Another less visible, but extremely important task of CNAs is to keep the log of patients’ activity. Since they are the ones spending the most time with the patient, a CNA may be the first person to notice any changes in patient behavior or activity level. With the aid of a correctly kept patient log, this information may be crucial for the patient’s potential disease progress and recovery.
Many CNAs ultimately continue their education while taking classes in their spare time and go on to become registered nurses (RNs). With such vast practical experience and education, CNAs who ultimately become RNs can be very valuable members of the medical staff, for both their co-workers and the patients alike.
A CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is a patient’s primary caregiver. In most settings a CNA works as a conduit between a patient and the nurse; thereby serving under the supervision of a nurse. Their main work environments include hospitals, nursing homes, elderly care centers, homes, etc.
The role of CNA is quite demanding but the profession is equally rewarding. Pursuing a career in this field provides professional and personal fulfillment. Though characterized by long hours of intensive work, the feeling of helping people in need is quite satisfying.
For most people, working as a CNA acts as a launching pad for better careers in the nursing field. It helps that the entry barriers to a CNA career are almost non-existent and the training program is less demanding.
Some employers hire unlicensed CNAs. However, credentials carry more weight and improve one’s chances for a better pay. They also act as stepping stones enabling one to pursue further education and move up the career ladder.
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) has to take on the role of care and trust in their work. This means they have to be able to spot any negative signs in their patients and have to be able to know what to do under intense pressure. That’s why there are some minimum educational requirements required to become a licensed CNA.
According to both federal and state laws, everybody who wants to become a CNA must have completed an approved post-secondary training program, and this is just the start of it. This post-secondary training program generally consists of many hours of both classroom work and work in a clinical setting.
Post-secondary training programs are generally taken within various vocational schools and community colleges all across the nation. Although, it’s important to remember that not all vocational schools and colleges will offer these courses. There will also be a big gap in quality between the lowest schools and the highest schools, so that’s why it’s important to choose carefully.
There are alternatives to the post-secondary training program though.
Just like many programs of this nature, candidates are generally expected to have achieved a certain level of education. This may depend on the state and/or specific training institution in question, but the most common requirements include:
On a side note, a CPR certification is usually required, but if this hasn’t been obtained prior to the start of the program then it can be obtained during the program. This is not a prerequisite to signing up for a CNA course.
Health requirements are also demanded by those who run CNA courses; however, these are usually standardized all across the country so it’s imperative that proof of good health is submitted. The following health requirements are usually demanded:
These are standard basic requirements in most states. However, it’s good to verify the requirements with your state board of nursing before applying for the program.
Other essential requirements for a CNA are compassion for people, passion to help others, excellent people skills and great communication skills. However, some level of education, normally post-secondary certification, is required as they often work with medical technology. For instance, medical charting software, billing software, health information software, etc. And depending on their training and experience or even state regulations, a CNA may be required to administer medication to patients.
If you are still in high school, there are high schools, which tailor-make courses for students planning to pursue a CNA career. Look out for those courses in your school, as they can help you lay a good foundation for your future career.
For training, you can either enroll in a vocational college, community college, technical college, or even in a healthcare facility. However, if you decide to train in a healthcare facility, you should keep in mind that you might be required to work with them, for a period of time, after you become certified. Hence, you need to talk to the management, for comprehensive details about their program, to avoid last-minute surprises.
The training program mainly involves CNA classes, training on practical skills, and clinical experiences that are normally supervised. Program length varies from one institution to the other, but the average length is between one to three months.
No matter the place or length, the most important thing is to confirm the program you are undertaking is accredited. NLNAC (National League for Nursing Accredited Commission) is normally responsible for the accreditation of CNA training programs.
Once the potential CNA has been accepted on to an approved training program they will then be obliged to complete the course, which lasts for eight weeks. There will be a number of areas that must be completed. They include:
The training program will culminate in a two-part exam: a written exam and a practical part known as the Clinical Skills Test (CST). The CST seeks to validate a CNA’s competence. It is a practical exam where skills learned are put to the test in a simulated environment.
Once a student has passed this test, he or she can then be listed as a CNA in that particular state’s registry. Certification takes roughly six weeks. When it comes to keeping your licensure active, most states in the US will require a CNA to complete a minimum of 48 hours of continuing education every two years.