A certified nursing assistant job can be quite rewarding, but it can also be a great starting point for much better paid careers related to patient care, and, in order to follow this career path, you need every piece of information you can find on how to become a CNA.
You do not need a degree to work as a nursing assistant, but that piece of paper will get you better job opportunities, so you may want to obtain it. This will mean between 75 and 150 hours of training, at the end of which you will have to pass a state-regulated competency test. If you are really interested in this career, you can find the steps to follow describer below.
How to Become a CNA – Get Started with Your Career
In order to even consider starting a career in this field, you need to be high school graduate. If you are still a student, it would be helpful to get some extra chemistry, biology or science classes. Although these courses do not necessarily help you become a certified nursing assistant, they will be invaluable when you decide to advance to the registered nurse statute. Some schools offer specific courses addressed to students who want to become CNAs, so you should check if such courses are available at yours.
A very important aspect related to your preparation for a CNA career is to develop great communication skills, because nursing assistants ensure the connection between patients and registered nurses or licensed practical nurses.
If you receive training as a CNA through local healthcare facilities, read carefully the contract they require you to sign together with the training application, because they might stipulate that you keep working for them for a certain period after getting your certification. Another option is attending Red Cross training courses.
No matter where these courses take place, they usually last between two and six weeks, but there are also exceptions, with courses that last between six and nine months. If you intend to get a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, it is advisable to try a nursing career directly, or even attend medical school and preparing to become a doctor.
Once you graduate the training program, you have to take the competency test, which consists of a theory test with multiple choice questions and a practical section allowing you to demonstrate between three and five aide skills on a real or fake patient. The test has to be passed within three or four months from graduating the course.
The duration of the training and the specific of the final test often vary from institution to institution and, respectively, from state to state. A great solution to find out the exact conditions in your state is to check the requirements on how to become a CNA of the State Nurse Aid Registry or State Licensing Board.
Some facilities accept candidates without a certification and grant them the possibility to follow specialized courses, but, obviously, the payment is lower and the career opportunities are fewer.
How to Become a CNA – Skills Developed during the Training Period
Besides providing you with the theoretical background required by the job, the training program you follow will also help you develop certain skills that will later become routines and determine your success or failure at the job. Some of these skills are:
- Cleansing and sterilizing;
- Preservation of privacy;
- Respect and compassion;
There are many websites and companies that can teach you how to become a CNA, and there are training programs that can actually help you become one, but, don’t forget that, at the end of the day, it is up to you to invest the commitment and dedication required to be a really good nurse.