Perhaps you are considering a career in the medical field? Well, have you thought about becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant (C.N.A.)? Maybe you are not sure what this involves or want to know more; well, that is what this article is here for. Let’s start with the “what”.
What is a C.N.A. and what do they do?
Basically they form part of a healthcare team. Registered nurses have a mass of tasks to perform and they need help. This is where the nursing assistant comes in. He or she assists registered nurses so that patients obtain the best healthcare possible. The work of a C.N.A. involves the routine care of patients. This includes:
- Responding to patients’ needs.
- Feeding and bathing patients where required.
- Helping patients with walking and exercising.
- Moving bedridden patients to prevent bedsores.
- Transporting patients in wheelchairs or stretchers.
- Making beds, changing linen and cleaning rooms.
- Preparing patients for procedures and surgery.
- Changing dressings.
- Monitoring, recording and reporting on patients’ conditions.
- Assisting with the use of bedpans.
- Assisting in the case of any emergencies.
There's quite a variety so you won’t be bored.
Where do they typically work?
C.N.A.s can work in any nursing facility; from hospitals to nursing homes, hospices and even home settings. They can work with children right up to the elderly. So, you can take your pick.
What are the prerequisites for the course?
You don’t need any prior experience but, generally, you will require a High School Diploma - although you will find some courses that waver this. It’s useful if you have studied biology at school but there is certainly no requirement and it will not be a disadvantage if you haven’t.
Where do you study?
You can either study through a college (costs involved) or through a healthcare facility (for free). Just be aware of any commitments to the healthcare facility in exchange for your tuition i.e. read the fine print. The Red Cross also has a reputable training program to become a C.N.A.
Warning: ensure that the program you choose is state-approved. Check with the relevant agency in your state for example, The State Board of Nursing.
What does the course involve?
You need to undergo the training and then take a State exam in order to become certified and placed on the State’s registry of nursing aides. (You’ll also have to have a health screening and a criminal record check.) In most cases C.N.A.s have to undertake 48 hours of additional training every two years in order to maintain their certification.
The training is made up of 50 hours of theory in a class-room setting and 100 hours of hands-on training. The structure of the course depends on where you study. If you are at a healthcare facility, your class time could be anything from two to six weeks fulltime. At colleges and the Red Cross, it could be as much as six months depending on schedules. Nice flexibility.
During the course you will cover all of the tasks of a C.N.A as well as the required background theory.
What else should you know?
There are some aspects of becoming a C.N.A. that you may want to consider:
- Given the nature of the work you are probably going to end up working some evenings, weekends and public holidays. Hey, this could suit you.
- You need to be compassionate, patient (think of how grumpy you can get if you are ill), organized, have strong communication skills and be able to work in a team.
- According to the May 2008 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey salaries are around $11.84 per hour. Hospitals tend to pay the best.
- Becoming a C.N.A. is a good stepping stone if you are not sure if nursing is for you or if you are battling with good old money at the moment (With enough experience, C.N.A’s can train to become registered nurses while still working.)
Look, there is no doubt about it, being a C.N.A. can be tough work. However, the difficult jobs are often the most rewarding.
Article written by Juliet Du Preez for Circles of Light a self improvement blog.