Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant


Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, are the staff that most patients will remember. They are the nurses who come into the room when paged; help the patients with regular activities, like going to the bathroom; spend time answering patients’ questions; or simply stop in to check that patients are doing alright. CNAs will see the patient through each stage of illness and recovery. It is a very hands-on, people oriented profession that offers a remarkable sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Along with a strong desire to help people, becoming a CNA requires completion of a course that takes between six and twelve weeks, participation in clinical work, and, of course, an exit exam. Depending on the state of residence, other requirements may apply and can usually be found online. It is also a good idea to check out the different types of schooling available locally and online. The cost of the training will vary based on the method and the amount of time required to complete the training. Areas of study include human anatomy, nutrition, infection control, and first aid. Skills that a student will need to develop that may not be part of the training are human interaction and patience. The job involves dealing with people who are suffering and likely are not at their best emotionally; understanding and concern are necessary to do the job well.

Beginning CNAs average $20,000 to $30,000 a year. Location and employer are two primary factors that determine starting pay. Large hospitals offer very different benefits and pay compared to a small, private doctor’s office. CNAs are also employed to work in nursing homes, clinics, schools, and private homes. Obviously the type of facility the CNA works in will determine the daily work load, but several jobs are pretty universal, like grooming, bathing, and monitoring vital signs.

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