The first step one must take in order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (or CNA) is to enlist in a CNA Training Programs. The majority of these training programs are offered by organizations such as the American Red Cross, as well as community colleges and medical centres everywhere. Ocasionally you may come across clinics which provide on-the-job training for prospective CNAs, but this is a rare occurrence; the best way to ensure you have a long and fulfilling career as a Certified Nursing Assistant is to enlist in one of the specialized CNA Training Programs.

The Job

Work as a Certified Nursing Assistant is a fulfilling experience. Caring for patients both young and old, improving their quality-of-life and knowing that thanks to your efforts their smile is even a little bit brighter is extremely rewarding. Compassion and a desire to help others in need are the main motivating factors behind a career as a CNA. Patience, a strong understanding of privacy and excellent people skills are a must for a good nurse. Nursing assistants are mainly tasked with acting as liaison between their patients and the doctors and nurses caring for them. Strong communication skills are required in order to understand your patient’s needs and correctly relay them to the appropriate medical staff.

The Program

trainingprogramProbably the best way to prepare for a career as a CNA is to enlist in a community college or university that offers an Associate’s Degree in a specialization related to the job of nursing assistant, such as an AS in Medical Assisting Service or an AAS in Medical Assisting. These degrees can be obtained after completing a course lasting two years and having such a degree can go a long way towards later becoming a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse – the next likely step in your career.

Apart from Associate Degrees, another – less time consuming – way to prepare is to enroll in CNA Training Programs. These last anywhere from 4 to 20 weeks, comprising between 75 and 200 hours of trainingwhich conclude in a state-sanctioned competency exam. The amount of training hours required is different in each state, so be sure to check beforehand. It is also very important to make sure that the training program you enlist in is accredited by the NLNAC.

The License

Those desiring a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (or Nurse Assistant as they are commonly refered to) must take and pass a state licensed competency exam in order to receive their CNA License. While you may be able to find work as a nurse’s aide without this license, you stand a far better chance of becoming a CNA – and advancing in your career later on – if you have one. The requirements for the license exam differ from state to state, but some of the general conditions are listed below:

  • You must have a high school diploma or GED in order to apply for a nursing assistant training course;
  • You must then register for and complete one of the accredited CNA Training Programs
  • Once your training is complete, you must pass a competency course, which involves around 40 hours of clinical guidance under the supervision of a trained nurse;
  • You must also submit to a background check before being allowed to practice. Your fingerprints are run against national databases to ensure you have no history of criminal charges or drug abuse;
  • You should also have a good understanding of spoken English, as conversations with patients will be one of your primary duties as a CNA;

The Outcome

The United States Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration estimates that there will be about 1.2 million job openings in the healthcare sector, the vast majority of which are openings for nurse positions. For CNAs in particular, it is indicated that job growth will be at a rate of 28% over the following decade, with just under 500,000 new job openings expected in the next 10 years. To match this growing demand, organizations and universities across the country are offering better and more diverse CNA Training Programs, making it easier than ever to secure your career as a Certified Nursing Assistant.