How to Become a Cerified Nursing Assistant (CNA)


First let’s define what a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is. A CNA is trained to assist patients with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and personal hygiene. Nursing Assistance work under fully qualified nurses such as Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses. CNA’s are usually employed by nursing or retirement homes.

The work required by a CNA is not for the weak stomach. It takes a very special and caring person to accept this physically and emotionally draining work. Many licensed nurses start out their career as a CNA. If you are thinking about a career in the medical field, working as a CNA is a great way to discover if this is the type of work
best suited for you.

In order to become a CNA, you must be certified by a program approved by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission. There are a lot of great training programs out there for certification. Some colleges offer a certification course for CNA’s. The benefits for these courses are shorter and less stressful courses than nursing students are required to take. Usually these students are involved in hands-on training at a medical facility in order to gain the experience needed to preform there duties once certified. However, these programs cost money just as any college course would. This can be a burden on some who are looking for this type of training.

Many medical facilities, such as nursing homes, also offer a certification course due to the high demand for qualified CNA’s. Some of these facilities ask for the newly Certified Nursing Assistant to sign a contract stating they will stay employed with the facility for a set amount of time, after completion of the program. In exchange for signing the contract, the facility does not charge them for their training. The benefits to this method of certification, is there is no need to travel from classroom to the facility for training, and there are no out-of-pocket expense to you. The only draw back is you could possible find yourself locked into a contract at a facility you don’t want to work for.

After completing the necessary courses, you are then required to pass an exam in order to complete your certification. There is a written and a practical portion to the exam. The written portion is given as a multiple choice test with 2-3 essay or critical thinking questions. The practical portion of the test is where your hands-on experience pays off. You will be asked to preform a number of procedures such as a blood pressure check, taking a patients temperature, correct hand washing procedures and turning a patient correctly. This is the most stressful portion of the test because you are under the watchful eye of an instructor or nurse.

Once you have passed the certification exam, you will then receive your certification card. You will have to be re-certified every two years.

Working as a CNA is a very rewarding profession that allow you to discover your caring and nurturing side, and could possibly lead to a career in nursing.

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