A CNA certified nurse assistant (also referred to as a nurses aid) is an unlicensed assistive personnel who provides basic care to patients in need of additional aid in order to meet some/most of their daily needs.
As the name suggests a CNA (certified nurse assistant) provides additional assistance to registered nurses and licensed practical nurses so that they can focus on other tasks that require their attention.
In addition to working with nursing staff CNA’s may also work with and provide assistance to physicians and other medical professionals so that their patients receive the proper care and treatment.
A position as a CNA can be achieved fairly quickly with basic training, and will allow individuals to gain important experience without much financial cost or education time required.
Thos who become CNA’s can epect to feed, bathe, clean and assist patients with daily mobility as part of their daily responsibilities.
In addition to direct patient care CNA’s may also assist with making beds, cleaning rooms, emptying/removing hazardous waste and maintaining a sanitary work environment for their patients and coworkers.
As with other areas of nursing CNA’s are responsible for ensuring the privacy of the patients they treat and interact with.
Excellent communication skills and a desire to help others improve their live are an essential part of being a CNA
Those who wish to become certified nurse assistants must possess a diploma, G.E.D. or equivalent prior to enrollment into the program.
Individuals must also be of age, which may vary between 16 – 18 depending on the state.
CNA programs can be found offered by a number of healthcare/education providers such as the Red Cross, vocational/technical schools, community colleges and local healthcare providers such as healthcare facilities, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
Depending on the institution and the students availability (full-time or part-time) individuals may be able to complete the certification process within 4 – 16 weeks.
During the program students will learn basic assessment skills, how to provide basic day-to-day care and how to maintain a sanitary working environment.
Training curriculum for CNA students may include:
- Basic assessment training and how to take/monitor patient vitals
- Training on treating, bathe, feeding, dressing & changing patients
- Transferring and assist patients with mobility
- Documentation keeping/recording of patient health
- Best sanitary practices
In addition to this students will also learn how to communicate effectively to other healthcare personnel and how to maintain patient confidentiality.
Some institutions may either train students are require them to obtain prior certification in CPR and First aide.
Those who successfully complete the training program must take and pass a state exam in order to earn their certification and become a CNA.
Some states may also require students to obtain a specified number of work/training hours in the field before they are able to take the state exam and earn their certification.
Lastly, before a CNA is able to become employed he/she must pass a background check and drug test prior to working in a healthcare center.
Paying for CNA school
For those who wish to begin a career as a CNA there are a number of opportunities available to pay for CNA classes.
This may include paying for the class with cash, taking out a loan, receiving a grant/scholarship or participating in a work-study program.
Each of these options has its benefits and can help fund your education so that you can become a CNA.
- Work-study program
Cash – The most upfront option for students interested in becoming CNA’s is to pay for the program with cash. This is a great option for those who have the money and don’t want to rely on paying back a loan or joining a work-study program.
Student loan – Individuals that aren’t able to fund the entire program may choose to take out a student/personal loan, which will allow them to cover the cost of the program and any additional associated costs. Student loans make it easier to pay over time and a loan with a decent interest rate may also be a preferred option to paying with cash for those who don’t want to upfront the cost of the program.
Grants & Scholarships – Some organizations and educational institutes may offer grants and/or scholarships for students as a way to offset the cost of the CNA program. Anyone who is interested in taking CNA classes should take a look at available grant/scholarship options because it is a great way to potentially cover or offset the cost of the program, and best of all it doesn’t need to be paid back!
Work-study programs – Work-study programs offer an alternative option for paying for a CNA class. Rather than taking out a loan or paying cash for the classes students may be able to participate in the program on a work-study arrangement, which allows them to pay for the class by working for a specific healthcare facility for an agreed amount of time. In other words students can attend the program for free if they agree to work for the organization after they obtain their certification.
The importance of CNA’s in healthcare
CNA’s can generally be found working in a variety of healthcare centers such as hospitals, healthcare clinics, community care centers, hospices, urgent care centers, doctors offices and assisted living nursing homes.
These healthcare assistants play a vital role in patient care by providing patients with basic day to day assistance and building meaningful relationships with those around them.
CNA’s allow registered nurses, doctors and physicians to spend more time on activities that require more specialized care such as treating patients that are dealing with severe injuries, illnesses or disorders and by focusing on less urgent patients so that each patient can be treated and receive the proper care they need.
Without CNA’s thousands of healthcare positions would go unfilled putting additional stress on other healthcare providers that are already having a hard time caring for the patients they have.
While CNA’s may not always receive the recognition they deserve without them the healthcare system and the patients it takes care of would take a huge hit in term of care and effectiveness.
Certified nurse assistants are truly an important part of everyday life and help form the essential building blocks of a healthy healthcare system.