If you are a caring and patient person, then a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) may be just what you are looking for. In what follows, I will provide you with the information that you need to know on how to become a CNA.
CNA’s are also known by other titles such as Patient Care Assistants (PCA), Nurse’s Aids (NA), Nurse Techs (NT), and Patient Care Technicians (PCT), depending on where you work.
First, before ever considering becoming a CNA, it helps to know what exactly the job entails. Working under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse, your duties will involve direct personal care of the patients you work with. This can include feeding, hygiene, dressing, toileting tasks, repositioning to prevent tissue trauma to bony areas, and assisting with transfers and ambulation. You need to be in good physical condition as you are on your feet most of the day. You need to have a nurturing personality, as you are the main person responsible for the day-to-day emotional contact with the patients you are caring for. You are the ‘eyes and ears’ for the nurse, as CNA’s are often the first staff to recognize changes in a patient’s condition such as a new skin scrape, a developing pressure sore, increased pain, or other problems. As such, you are responsible for reporting such findings to the nurse in charge.
If you are interested in learning how to become a CNA, most schools require that you have graduated from high school or have a GED before applying to a Certified Nursing Assistant course. Although not mandatory, while in high school, it can be helpful to ensure you take courses in human biology, as some of this will apply to the training you will undertake in the CNA course.
Next, you will want to do some homework and get some background information. Check with hospitals and nursing homes in your local area, as some may be willing to pay for your education if you agree to work for them upon completion of your course. In getting a list of schools for your state, you will also want to do some research on them and learn their reputations. You can do this by speaking to former students, going on forums online, and by calling local healthcare facilities to ask them which schools they prefer to hire from.
Another thing to be aware of is the cost of tuition. Although some schools may charge less for tuition, you need to consider the reputation, the quality of schooling, and the length of the course. You will also want to consider whether the school adequately prepares you for the state certification exam. Find out if the school you are considering to help you learn how to become a CNA is registered with the National League of Nursing Accreditation or the Commission for Collegiate Education and Nursing. This is a strong sign of the school’s credibility. Once taking the course, you can expect to have classes with courses that include things like basic anatomy and healthcare knowledge, performing personal care of patients, body mechanics and safe patient handling, the importance of communication with other team members, and how to deal with emergencies.
You will also complete training in a healthcare facility in order that you get hands on experience.
Prior to having your name included on the Nurse’s Aid Registry for your state, you will need to complete the certification exam. You are then ready to begin your career as a CNA!