Certified Nurse Assisting: A Stepping Stone
What opportunities will come your way as a CNA? Though providing direct patient care is important and can be very rewarding, the time may eventually arrive when you will want a change of pace. Your education, experience and skills as a CNA pave the way to a wide variety of opportunities.
As you begin your career as a CNA, make it a habit to regularly “take stock” of what interests you most. If you are motivated by excitement and the rush of adrenaline, you may be well suited for a position as an ER or psych tech. ER techs are very busy as they are called upon to assist with procedures, take vital signs, draw blood, and perform EKGs. Psych techs work on the psychiatric unit engaging the mentally ill patient in therapeutic conversation, observing and recording patient behaviors, and ensuring safety on the unit. Many hospitals hire CNAs to work in surgery as surgical technicians, and this is a great position for the CNA who enjoys actively participating in procedures that change lives. Though some hospitals require special training prior to hiring, this is not an “across the board” requirement. With a little investigation you can easily find a hospital or surgery center that prefers to train CNAs “on the job” to fill this position.
Developmentally disabled adults often live in group homes where CNAs are hired to provide supervision and security. The duties of this position (sometimes known as “personal care attendant”) include supervising residents in daily activities and providing a safe environment for them. You will accompany residents on shopping and leisure outings and will be responsible for reporting symptoms of illness or emotional upset to the housing director. This is a very rewarding occupation for the responsible, compassionate CNA.
Do you find yourself interested in the medications, treatments and procedures that are provided at the bedside? If so, you may be interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). The education and training for LPNs is 12 to 18 months and is provided at many community and technical colleges. Do you find yourself asking questions about what causes certain diseases and what makes the body respond to illness the way it does? Would you like more responsibility and high tech duties such as initiating IV therapy? You may, then, be well suited to become a registered nurse (RN). The education and training for RNs is 2 or 4 years. A 2 year (associate’s) degree is offered by many community and technical colleges. A 4 year (bachelor’s) degree can be obtained at a university. Bachelor’s programs in nursing offer additional classes in nursing theory, management, research and humanities, however the test for licensure is the same for 2 year and 4 year RNs. If you work full time as a CNA, you may be eligible to attend nursing school while your employer foots the bill! Many hospitals, long term care facilities and other healthcare organizations provide tuition reimbursement to full time employees. Explore the possibilities!