Classes for students becoming certified nursing assistants consist of didactics, classes when lectures are given, and labs, in which students get hands-on experience either practicing skills on each other or taking care of actual patients.
Most lectures consist of instructions on how to perform skills, such as giving bed baths, making beds, measuring vital signs, serving meals, and writing notes. A few lectures will explain things like legalities and confidentiality.
One of the first labs is often an introduction to hospital beds and making them. It might sound simple, but since the bed is the most important part of the patient’s environment, beds must be made hospital-style with corners that won’t pull out and smooth sheets. With a shortage of nursing personnel, nurses’ aides must learn to make beds in the quickest, most efficient manner possible, so this is a good lesson to learn well. Patients unable to leave their beds need bed baths for good physical and emotional health, and aides soon learn to give a bath and even a shampoo without spilling one drop of water onto the sheets. Vital signs are an extremely important method for the doctors and nurses to judge the patient’s basic condition, so learning to handle electronic thermometers and how to measure the pulse, breathing, and blood pressure are crucial.
Once the basic skills have been taught, students will be allowed to put them into practice in clinical settings, also known as hospitals. A typical morning for a student might start with checking in with his or her teacher and being assigned to a certain patient. The student will sit in on morning report, in which the nurse will tell the student what needs to be done. Then the student will go to the patient’s room and probably change the linens, give a bath, help in setting up materials for the patient to brush his or her teeth, and carry breakfast from a cart to the patient’s room. The patient’s diet has been told to the student, and the good student will check to see that the diet delivered is the one ordered. After all his or her tasks are complete, the student will write notes on the patient’s record and perhaps return to school for an afternoon lecture. Sometimes clinical experiences might be arranged on evenings or weekends to vary the student’s experience. Schools and states vary in what is required of students and how their programs are conducted, but this should give the reader a general idea of what is to be expected.
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