Obtaining Your Certified Nursing Assistant Degree

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a smart choice for anyone looking to enter the medical field, especially if you love communicating with and assisting others. A CNA’s daily tasks include direct contact with patients, measuring and recording vital signs, helping with meals, dressing, bathing, and more.

Certified Nursing Assistants have more daily direct contact with their patients than anyone else in the healthcare field. The type of care CNA’s provide allows them to build strong connections and meaningful relationships with their patients.

Obtaining a Certified Nursing Assistant Degree
If you are interested in training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, there are several options available to you. Although you won’t need a degree in the traditional sense, there are certain requirements you will need to fulfill in order to be eligible to take the state exam and receive your certification.

Educational Requirements for a Certified Nursing Assistant
In order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, there are a few prerequisites involved. First, you’ll need to have a high school diploma, or the equivalent (such as a GED). Many states also require potential CNA training students to be at least 18 years of age.

Your next step is to find an approved CNA course that is recognized by the state. Community colleges, adult education centers, and private medical training institutions are among your choices for training. Many local Red Cross branches also provide CNA certification courses. Weigh out all the options available to you before making your final decision. Factors to consider include cost, class availability and times, as well as the amount of hands on training you will receive. Keep in mind that many individuals are hands on learners. Ask plenty of questions about the subject matter that will be covered as well as the “bookwork to practical training” ratio.

The training includes 75 total clock hours according to federal regulations, although a few states require additional training hours:
  • New York – Requires 100 hours of CNA training
  • Delaware & Oregon – Require 150 hours of CNA training
  • Alaska – Requires 140 clock hours of training
  • Florida, Arizona, Virginia, & Idaho – Require 120 hours of CNA training
Online CNA Training vs. the Traditional Classroom Setting
For those who are currently employed full-time or have a family or other obligations, you may be tempted to obtain your Certified Nursing Assistant Degree from the comfort of your own home. Is this possible? Here’s the rundown…

First of all, when searching schools online, the first thing to look for is accepted by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). The NLNAC seal of approval is your peace of mind that the online courses you are taking will be recognized.

Another factor to consider when researching your online options are your own state’s requirements for certification. Contact your State Nurse’s Aide Registry or your State Licensing board before signing up for any online course. Some state’s only recognize or accept training that includes hands on experience obtained in a local healthcare facility. If this is the case for your state, the online course you choose may be useful for initial preparation, but you may not be allowed to take your state exam for licensing until the practical training requirements have been fulfilled. Some of the better online schools do make arrangements for their students to complete the hands on training in local facilities. Just be sure to check out all of the details in order to avoid any unwelcome surprises later on.

Article Source: Certified Nursing Assistant

CNA Certified Nursing Assistant

Thinking about entering into the field of nursing? Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA), is an excellent and rewarding career that will place you directly on the front lines. Also known as patient care technicians, nurse’s aides, or home health aides (depending on the environment you choose to work in), the certified nursing assistant uses both skill and compassion to provide quality patient care to those unable to do so for themselves.

Diversity in Action

Because the CNA works so closely with patients, often providing necessary personal care such as grooming, feeding, and bathing, the ability to work well with people is necessary. If you are service oriented, deriving pleasure out of helping others, and are able to comfort those who are in distress, this may be the perfect career path for you.

Along with providing a high level of physical, social and emotional care for your patients, you’ll also need to have “attention to detail” skills. The certified nursing assistant is responsible for charting vital signs, as well as relaying important information on patient conditions directly to the staff nurse, dietician, and other medical professionals.

Is it a juggling act? Yes, sometimes it can be. If you are able to multi-task and have strong organizational skills, you’ve got a winning head start. Becoming a CNA is also the perfect way to introduce you to the medical field as a whole. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to decide if you’d like to further your career by becoming an RN, X-ray Technician, or a host of other possibilities. You’ll be able to observe and weigh out your advancement opportunities. Or, like so many CNAs, you may decide that being a certified nursing assistant is exactly where you’d like to stay.

Certified Nursing Assistant Training
Whether this is an entry point into the field of medicine or a lifetime career choice, training and certification is your first step. In order to become a certified CNA you’ll need the following:
  • A high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Completion of a 6-12 week CNA certificate program
CNA certificate programs are widely available. Requirements vary from state to state, but classes are available through community colleges, medical facilities, vocational colleges, and adult education facilities. Some programs are employee sponsored, while others guarantee placement once you have satisfactorily completed your training and received your certification. Be sure to check out all of the training options before making your final decision.

Cost for Training
Depending on where you choose to take your course, certified nursing assistant training can vary. The national average cost to complete your training, take your exam, and receive your certification is between $400 and $900. Once you are finished, you will immediately be eligible for employment as a CNA.

Be aware that some training facilities list their CNA training courses as an all inclusive, total amount, while others list training materials, exam fees, and other requirements separately. Be sure of the total cost before enrolling.

What Does the Training Consist of?
Classroom instruction will generally include anatomy, physiology, basic nursing skills, nutrition and proper food handling. You’ll also learn proper and sanitary ways to handle a variety of substances in order to prevent the spread of infection. Don’t worry, you won’t be sent into the nursing field without being prepared. You’ll gain confidence through the hands-on-experience you will receive during clinical activity sessions.

At the end of your training, you’ll also need to take your certification exam which is offered by The National Association for Home Care. During your training, you’ll most likely take a pre-test, which will make you aware of any areas you’ll need to focus on when studying for the actual exam.

How Much Money Will I Earn?
Yes, being a certified nursing assistant is filled with rewards. One of them is the ability to work in a professional atmosphere and earn a living. The latest salary data (2009) reports that the medium income for CNAs falls between $25,000 and $20,000 annually. Top earners are generally those who have years of experience and excellent reviews. Their salaries are $32,000 annually and up.

If you are ready to take the next step and become a certified nursing assistant, congratulations. You’ve made an excellent career choice. Today’s decision can easily lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career in less than two months!
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Certified Nursing Assistant Continuing Education

Certified Nursing Assistants are directly responsible for the care and supervision of a variety of patients. Some are recovering from surgery, while others are receiving end of life care and monitoring. Since the level of responsibility is so high, Certified Nursing Assistant continuing education requirements have been established. Here is a brief history and rundown of CNA continuing education.

In 1987 the Federal OBRA Reconciliation Act created a much needed federal standard for all CNA training programs. The standard includes the following:

Initial Training Requirements

A minimum of 75 clock hours of training is required in most states in order to be eligible to take the exam. Of these 75 hours, at least 16 of them must cover the following topics:
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Infection control
  • Emergency and safety procedures which include the Heimlich maneuver, promotion of patient independence, and respect for patient rights
These requirements are based on federal guidelines. No state is allowed to reduce the number of required training hours, although some, including New York, require more than 75 hours. If you are receiving your training for New York CNA certification, you’ll need to complete 100 clock hours, along with 30 additional hours of supervised practical experience in a nursing home environment.

Certified Nursing Assistant Continuing Education and In-Service Training

Also on the state level, CNA continuing education requirements can vary. Depending on what facility you work for, continuing education hours could be required by your employer as well. All this is in addition to state requirements.

For example, CNAs practicing in the state of New York will need to complete a clinical skills competency test as well as a written or oral competency test within the first two years of the basic CNA training program. Applicants will have three chances to pass each test.

Some of the other states that have more stringent requirements include the following:

California: CNA certificates expire every two years. During each two year period there are 48 hours of in-service training required. Don’t wait until the second year to complete your 48 hours if you practice in California; 12 of the 48 hours must be completed during the first year.

Florida: Nursing assistants certified in Florida must perform a minimum of 18 hours of in-service training each year. Every two years the continuing education must include HIV/AIDS infection control, medical record documentation, domestic violence, patient rights, medical error prevention safety, and CPR skills.

Georgia: Georgia’s standards are not quite as demanding on a state level. Only CNAs working in a licensed Medicaid/Medicare facility must attend continuing education. A minimum of 12 hours is required each year, and must be provided by the facility itself.

Illinois: This state sort of goes by the “pop quiz” theory. At any point in time a Certified Nursing Assistant may be required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in all areas of required training. This is demonstrated by taking a written or action based exam. If it is determined that the CNA’s skills are inadequate, in-service training and review will be required until the CNA can demonstrate sufficient knowledge in every area of required training.

Indiana: Indiana’s facilities are required to conduct annual CNA reviews to detect any weak areas. If discovered, the facility must provide in-service training to address these issues. In addition, 12 hours of in-service training must be completed each year. The training must include patient rights, fire prevention, infection control and prevention, and needs of the specialized populations.

These are examples of some of the requirements for Certified Nursing Assistant continuing education at the state level. Check with the state Department of Health (DOH) for your particular state requirements for continuing education and in-service training requirements.

Keep in mind that your particular place of employment may have other continuing education and training requirements. They are all meant to further equip you to be the best possible nursing assistant.

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Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Am I Right for the Job?
To be a nursing assistant, you must have compassion and a desire to help people. It is not an easy job, but it can be very rewarding. As an RN in long-term care for many years, I have observed the dismay that new CNAs feel when overwhelmed by the workload and fast pace. When faced with challenging situations, nursing assistants who seem to be able to manage stress best are those with true compassion for the people who they are caring for. Nursing assistants who view their occupations as “just a job that pays the bills” usually are not successful and likely to have made the wrong career choice. Patience is crucial to the job, along with self-confidence and a certain level of maturity. Good interpersonal skills with an emphasis on being a team player are especially valuable traits for all health care workers.

How do I become a CNA? (Certified Nursing Assistant)
I receive numerous inquiries regarding becoming a C.N.A. and respond accordingly that it is not as difficult as one may think. However it is important to know that every state is different in regards to amount of time required for training and testing and the type of environment you’d like to work in. For information on specifics, you can contact your State Nurse Aide Registry and/or State Licensing Board. I have also included a link to state by state list of agencies that offer CNA training programs for your reference: Directory of Nursing Agencies that Offer CNA Classes.

Remember when researching in your area that CNAs are known by many names such as Nursing Assistants, Nurses Aides, Orderlies, Patient Care Technicians, Home Health Aides and more, depending on where you live and work. Keep in mind that if you are hired at a healthcare facility, you must prepared to submit to a background check (criminal) and a drug test as this is now a requirement.

Regardless of where you live you will need to be trained. Often, local healthcare facilities especially nursing homes will advertise free classes OR “Be paid while you learn.” These classes are offered usually to those with no prior healthcare experience and can run anywhere from 2-6 weeks fulltime. Be mindful that these facilities will require that you work at their facility for a certain amount of time in exchange for this training and sometimes will also pay for the state test. Another option for training is to attend CNA classes at a local community college or become trained through the Red Cross. These classes generally last longer possibly up to 6 months and can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 for training. The main benefit is that your training is more extensive and I have observed CNAs often are more confident due to feeling better prepared. Many CNAs quickly learn that on the job training is what matters most and although this holds true for many jobs it is especially pertinent in health care settings. After training you will then need to take the state test to become certified and it is usually done at a specific place and on a specific date pre- arranged by your trainer. Some places will allow you to work, upon completion of your CNA training, up to three or four months after classes without your certification. The test includes a written and clinical portion. The written portion is founded on good common sense principles and reviewing your class notes and handouts is always a good idea. I have included this link for taking actual practice tests in each state to further prepare.
CNAs report that often it is the clinical part of the test that many find more difficult due to their nervousness. While the state examiners expect some nervousness they will focus more on observing your basic care-giving skills. While taking the practical portion of the test, you will be asked to demonstrate several nursing assistant skills. Remember safety measures such as locking the wheelchair, using a gait belt with transfers, and raising bed rails when completing patient care. Keep in mind a patient’s dignity and privacy needs at all times. Knock on door before entering, close privacy curtains and cover patients as much as possible when providing care. Introduce yourself, identify your patient by name in a professional manner, and explain each step of your care prior to proceeding. Be sure you put gloves on before performing any kind of care that would require gloves including any contact with body fluids. Always remember when you are asked to demonstrate a skill, to first use proper hand washing technique prior to performing the skill requested.

How to Decide on a Good Place to Work?
One very helpful method is to check the Nursing Home Inspector section on our site. This tool will allow you to determine how a facility has performed for the last three annual inspections and any recent complaints that were registered. This is an excellent screening tool providing a baseline and means of comparing homes against each other. Another good way to learn more about a facility or agency is simply by word of mouth. Talk frankly to other CNAs as well as the families with loved ones in facilities or with Home Care Agencies. Make a visit to the facility and talk to the staff about what they do and don’t like about their workplace. Learn about the orientation you will be given as well as ongoing nursing supervision and in-services provided. Most importantly, you need to sense an atmosphere of positive respect towards CNAs from all members of the health team in a particular facility or agency.

CNAs are in Great Demand!
Being a Nursing Assistant is not for everyone, and many care facilities have been experiencing great difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified staffing in recent years. Our country has experienced a crisis in the area of the direct care-giving field with shortages in CNAs rating among the top causes. The pay scale often does not reflect the difficult nature of the work expected of nursing assistants. All too common short staffing with resulting frustration in an effort to provide quality care contributes to this astounding turnover rate. The shortage of caregivers combined with growing long-term care needs of our elderly population is basis for the great demand for CNAs and resulting numerous job opportunities. If you decide to choose this field of work never think or say “I’m just a CNA.” On the contrary, always remember that you are a respected and valuable professional member of the health team who provides vital care.

Article Source: Certified Nursing Assistant

A Typical Day As A Certified Nursing Assistant

The duties of a certified nursing assistant are many, as they are usually with the patients more than doctors and nurses, especially in a nursing home.

A typical day of a certified nursing assistant would go something like this: In the morning they would help the patients dress if needed, and assist them in any way to get ready for the day, including help in the bathroom if needed. They would also assist in feeding the patients breakfast if needed. Especially with the elderly or extremely ill patients, vitals usually need to be taken. Sometimes, depending on the patient, vitals can also mean listening to the heart and lungs and recording how the patient is breathing.

In the afternoon, nursing assistants would help with transferring patients to and from their different appointments if necessary, make their beds, and help feed them lunch if necessary. Vitals usually need to be taken yet again with the very old and/or sick patients. In the evening, nursing assistants would help put patients pajamas on if needed and help feed them dinner if needed as well. Vitals usually need to be taken again with the very old and/or sick patients. Nursing assistants also need to assist with baths too either during the afternoon or evening if the patients are unable to do so themselves. So, as one can see, nursing assistants are there for the patient for all their basic needs during the entire duration of the day.

Nursing assistants are also responsible for changing diapers on patients if used. If the diapers are non-disposable, nursing assistants are responsible to clean them out in places called Hopper Rooms, which is basically cleaning by water pressure, then the diaper is thrown in a container to be washed later. Other random duties that nursing assistants are expected to perform during the entire duration of the day is to empty catheters for patients that have them. Also, to empty bedpans as well if used.

If nursing assistants work during the night shift (or, the graveyard shift), they are expected to check on their patients often, and if needed, take their vitals, help them to the bathroom, or change their diapers. Nursing assistants are also expected to run errands for their patients such as getting them drinks and such.

Usually, to get trained as a certified nursing assistant, one must attend classes, usually offered in various locations close to one’s residency. At the end of those classes, if the tests are passed adequately, then the certification is issued. One must have a certification to work as a nursing assistant, just as one must be licensed to work as an LPN (licensed practical nurse). Just as one cannot work as a nurse without the proper training, neither can a nursing assistant, or shouldn’t anyway!

There are many jobs for certified nursing assistants. Part of that reason is because there are always people who get sick, there are always people who get into terrible accidents, and there is always the elderly who need extra care that they cannot do themselves.

In summary, nursing assistants are there to help the nurse with the basic care of their patients. They basically do everything to care for the patients except for the things beyond what they are trained to do. Therefore, the nurses patients also become the nursing assistants patients as well. Just as doctors report to nurses at the end of the day, nursing assistants report to the nurse they have been working for at the end of the day. Nursing assistants go through a complete summary of each patient. Not only that, but nursing assistants also have to update the newcomer taking over for them on their shift, meaning that they have to also give a complete summary of each patient to the nursing assistant replacing them.

Then, the final task for nursing assistants at the end of the day is to fill out everything that was done for the patient in a very specific and organized fashion. Each location will have a different way of having their employees fill out the necessary paperwork, whether it be on paper or on a computer.

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