CNAs assist professionals such as nurses and doctors care for patients in a variety of health care settings, by providing bed-side, personal and basic medical care for patients. Portland employs over 7,500 CNAs and related health care professionals. Employment opportunities in the Portland metropolitan area is expected to increase approximately 18 percent through 2018, according to the Oregon Employment Department. If you’re interested in a career in the nursing field, becoming a certified nursing assistant may be the right career choice for you.
The Oregon State Board of Nursing administers the credentialing requirements for CNAs. It also credentials educational programs in the state, of which seven Board-approved schools are located in Portland. Schools in Portland include the Caregiver Training Institute, Cascade Medical School, Cornerstone Care Option, Oregon Outreach, Pacific Healthcare School and Portland Community College. The growing need for qualified nursing professionals has also led to Oregon’s Board of Nursing approving high school vocational programs for CNAs. Madison High School in Portland is also Board-approved, and students can obtain their CNA training while obtaining their high school diploma.
The Board of Nursing in Oregon certifies two types of nursing assistants: CNA 1 and CNA 2. To become a level 1 certified nursing assistant, students are required to obtain 75 hours of classroom and laboratory training, and 75 hours of clinical practice at a nursing facility. Before entering any training program, the Board of Nursing requires student to have a current CPR certification. The classroom curriculum consists of learning communication skills, person-centered care, infection control precautions and procedures, safety and emergency procedures, as well as patient observation and reporting. Laboratory work includes practical training to understand what was learned in the classroom, as well as hands-on training in patient care and other CNA job responsibilities. Clinical practice encompasses al the skills learned in school under the direct supervision of a Board-approved clinical instructor in a skilled nursing facility.
After successful completion of the training program, students can register with the Oregon Board of Nursing to take the CNA 1 certification examination. All students must be fingerprinted through the state as well. The exam costs $106 and fingerprint processing costs $52, as of 2012. The Board suggests preparing for the exam by reading the Oregon Nursing Assistant Candidate Handbook, which is provided during training. The examination is a pass or fail test. A passing grade allows students to practice as a CNA professionally. CNAs must renew their license every two years, which requires 400 hours of paid employment under the supervision of a registered nurse. Renewing a CNA license costs $60, as of 2012.
A CNA 2 license allows certified nursing assistants to provide more advanced patient care in three categories: acute care, dementia care and rehabilitative care. Specialized skills earned through studies to obtain a CNA 2 license allows CNAs to work for a broader range of health care providers. CNA 2 training requires 40 hours of classroom and laboratory training, as well as 24 hours of clinical practice. Those interested in becoming a CNA 2 must hold a current CNA 1 certification. After successful completing of training, student must pass a competency evaluation in their specialized training program and register with the Oregon Board of Nursing.
Among all nursing aides in the Portland area, the average salary was $13.72 per hour, according to the Oregon Employment Department in 2011. The salary can increase for those with credentials and professional experience. Approved training can lead to a personally and financially rewarding career as a certified nursing assistant in Portland.
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