If you like to give direct care to patients, consider using your passion to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). As a CNA, you will be a primary, hands-on caregiver for the people who need you the most.
The healthcare field is booming, and the outlook is bright for a CNA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth of 20% by 2020. While many CNAs love their work and continue to stay in their career, others use it as a stepping stone to become a Medical Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse or a Registered Nurse. Once you have your certification, you’ll have many options!
Most CNAs work in settings that provide basic services, such as residential or nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and assisted care facilities. They also work in hospitals, clinics, home health, adult day care, and hospice care.
Interested in pursuing a career as a CNA? Here’s what you need to do:
• Be 18 years or older.
• Have a high school diploma or GED certification.
• Enroll in a training program. You’ll find one at the Red Cross, a local community college or trade school, or a hospital. There are also online classes that can provide a lot of the basic information.
• Complete the classroom course that covers the skills and knowledge you’ll need to give patient care. You’ll also learn about healthcare laws and ethics. The classroom portion takes about 75 hours. The number of classroom hours varies by state.
• Do an “externship” giving care to actual patients at a nursing home or hospital. Under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or licensed supervisor, you can practice your new skills to become confident.
• Pass the Certification Examination. This is a comprehensive test that covers everything you learned during your training and coursework. There are two parts:
• A written exam, taken at a secure, proctored location
• A clinical exam, to demonstrate basic skills
• Depending on your state, you’ll know your results within a week or two.
• Some states require a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and a TB test as part of the certification process.
• Take a CPR and First Aid class.
• Start applying!
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median pay rate of $12.07 an hour--$25,100 a year. The top of the range is $17.39 an hour--$36,170 a year.
Investing in a career as a CNA is a smart move. You’ll become a key member of the healthcare team, with many opportunities for years to come.
Try reviewing the course material on role and responsibility of the nursing assistant from our course library.
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