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What Does a CNA do?

CNA Career Basics

CNAs are on the front lines of providing basic care to patients in a variety of health care facilities, with responsibilities ranging from assisting with personal daily needs such as bathing and exercising to monitoring vital signs and dietary restrictions. All job requirements tend to be non-invasive procedures and revolve around daily routines that patients may not be able to complete on their own. Working under the supervision of licensed nurses, CNAs provide personal, professional assistance, ensuring patients are treated with dignity and respect and while receiving necessary medical care.

CNA Career In-depth

In addition to being able to provide day-to-day care to their patients, CNAs must be compassionate communicators who can support their patients through difficult and sometimes painful procedures. Because they provide many basic care services such as bathing patients and helping them transfer to wheelchairs, they must also have a certain level of physical fitness. CNAs are expected to be team players, serving as liaisons between other medical professionals and their patients. This often involves recording and conveying important information concerning the condition of those in their charge. CNAs are found in nearly every health care field, serving in locations such as long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and hospices.

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Did You Know?

Nursing assistants date back to World War I, when the American Red Cross created a program for training individuals to assist nurses during the war. It was known as the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service

Why to Choose Us?

The Mission Of CNAs Only Is To Be The Official Brand For All Professional CNAs.

CNAs are the backbone of the healthcare industry. The time has come for all professional CNAs to get the recognition and respect they rightfully deserve.

The CNAs Only Brand represents this movement and change happening now in the industry. We believe in supporting and empowering CNAs to lead the way into the next major growth phase in the future of healthcare.

STEPS TO BECOMING A CNA

1 COMPLETE STATE-APPROVED EDUCATION PROGRAM

CNA training requirements vary by state, so those interested in becoming CNAs will need to check local regulations before enrolling. Students should also check with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. CNA training programs are offered by a variety of institutions, including the American Red Cross, local health care providers, community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and online training programs.
CNA programs last from four to 16 weeks, depending on the institution. Those choosing to receive their training from a health care provider should be aware that some require students to work at the facility for a set amount of time after receiving their certification.

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2 PASS STATE-SPECIFIC EXAMINATION

Once students have completed their CNA training, they will need to pass a state-specific examination to be fully certified. In many cases, graduates can work up to four months without certification while waiting to take the exam. While specific questions will vary based on state requirements, it will most likely include both practical and clinical components.
Students should note that some states have additional certification requirements, including passing a background check and undertaking a certain number of continuing education credits each year.

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3 LAND FIRST JOB AS A CNA

After CNA training, graduates can apply for their first jobs. It’s important to remember that certified nurse assistants can only practice under the supervision of licensed nurses, meaning it is illegal to offer their services as independent providers. CNA roles are expanding much more rapidly than the national average for job growth, providing graduates with a variety of options when pursuing their first positions. Because CNAs can be found in nearly every type of health care facility, they can also find a setting that is matched to their individual career goals.

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4 RETURN TO SCHOOL FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION

In addition to completing their initial training and certification, some states mandate CNAs complete a certain number of continuing education credits each year to maintain their qualifications. These are offered by a variety of educational providers and health care facilities. Students should check with their state’s governing board to learn about requirements for their area.

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Process for Taking the Certification Exam

Begin preparing while still in school

Many programs will help students prepare for the exam with practice tests or study guides. These are also offered online by a number of educational providers. Students should review the types of questions they will be asked while still in their program so they will have a good understanding of where to focus their knowledge.

Work with instructors to schedule the exam

Many programs will help students prepare for the exam with practice tests or study guides. These are also offered online by a number of educational providers. Students should review the types of questions they will be asked while still in their program so they will have a good understanding of where to focus their knowledge.

Take the exam

The examination is divided into two parts: a writing portion and a clinical portion. Students often report that the clinical segment is more challenging than the writing component. In many cases, students are required to bring someone with them to act as their patient while demonstrating newly acquired skills. This demonstration requires the student to simulate common CNA tasks, including following infection control procedures, maintaining patient privacy, providing baths, completing vital signs, and transferring a patient to a wheelchair. Students will learn if they passed or failed on the same day they complete the examination. If the result is pass, students can begin working immediately. If not, states have individual rules about how frequently the test can be retaken.

Our CNA School

Accreditation

While there is no national governing body for accrediting certified nursing assistant courses, prospective students should do their research to ensure the program they are considering is approved by their state. These requirements vary by location, so students should contact their governing board to confirm the program is on the list of accepted training providers.

Student Support for Examination Preparation

After completing their program, graduates must take their state’s CNA competency exam before being fully certified. Numerous educational providers will help students prepare for this test by offering practice questions, reviewing components of the exam, and helping locate testing centers. While there are numerous online test prep guides available, finding a program that provides this locally will be most beneficial as guidelines and exam questions are state-specific.

Faculty with extensive and relevant nursing experience

A quality education starts with an excellent faculty and professors who have extensive and current experience, both in the virtual classroom and professional world. Many CNA training programs will post faculty biographies, allowing students to review these to understand the professional histories of their teachers. It is important to find professors who have both the educational and practical experience needed to deliver information accurately and clearly. Students should steer clear of any faculty who gained their certified nurse assistant qualifications and moved straight into the classroom, as their ability to share real-world experiences will be limited.

Opportunities For Advancement

LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSING (LPN)

LPNs often supervise CNAs and work directly under registered nurses and physicians. While some of their tasks overlap with CNAs, they are able to provide higher, more specialized levels of care. The process of becoming an LPN involves undertaking further education in the form of a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, all of which can be completed within nine to 24 months. Graduates must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses to be licensed. Professionals in this career may choose to specialize by undertaking further qualifications.

REGISTERED NURSING (RN)

Professionals in this field have a wealth of opportunities for taking on meaningful work and advancing their careers. Degrees exist at levels ranging from associate to postgraduate and offer varied prospects. CNA professionals looking to transition into an RN role can undertake an associate degree, which can be completed in two years of full-time study. Should they choose to complete further education at a later date, there are many accelerated bridge programs for obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduates will need to undertake the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses before they begin working.

NEONATAL NURSE (NN)

Should a student consider specializing after obtaining their RN licensure, neonatal nursing provides a career where professional caregivers can make a difference and earn competitive salaries. After completing either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, students can gain experience in pediatrics and neonatal care. Many NICUs offer internships or on-the-job training programs to help students learn about the specific skills needed for this area of nursing. Students can also complete a certificate in pediatric nursing to be more competitive for positions.

Components of a successful CNA career

Skills

The best CNAs have a natural desire to help people as well as highly developed skills in areas of patient care and communication. In addition to assisting patients with daily living activities, CNAs must be able to make those in their care feel safe and comfortable during their time at the facility. CNAs should know their patients’ needs thoroughly, including dietary restrictions, allergies, and personal preferences. They must also be able to listen to their patients and convey important information about their needs and feelings to other members of the care team, such as licensed nurses, dieticians and physicians.

Credentials

After completing their training, CNAs may choose to pursue further credentials that allow them to specialize their work. Individual state councils or subject-specific organizations, such as the National Council of State Boards of Nursing or the American Board of Wound Management, typically provide these additional credentials. Available specializations include opportunities to become activity assistants, medication aides, wound care associates, and patient care technicians. Continuing education could also lead to certifications as physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants, and even degrees as registered nurses.

Tools and Technology

CNAs use a variety of tools and technology to care for patients and communicate their medical information with coworkers. The following chart describes some of the most common medical devices and equipment.

Software Billing software, health information medical history databases, GE Health care Centricity EMR, charting software, Microsoft Office
Personal hygiene devices Shower or bath chairs, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, bed pans
Medical Apparatuses Automated external defibrillators or hard paddles, electronic medical thermometers, heating or cooling pads, compression packs, wheelchairs