A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional and therefore has to successfully meet very stringent CNA requirements related to training and exams.
A CNA, also referred to as a certified nurse aide, helps residents with basic activities required for day-to-day living while being under medical care. These activities, which are provided under the supervision of nursing staff, can include feeding, bathing, administering prescribed medicine, dressing, listening to concerns, ambulating, toileting and more.
The CNA forms a very important link between the patient and his Registered Nurse.
A CNA is a noble professional who helps restore a patient’s health and helps him become a productive contributor to the nation. CNAs work in nursing homes, adult day care centers, hospitals, hospice, day care and in other healthcare facilities. The healthcare industry is booming in America and the demand for CNAs is foreseen to be high.
The median salary of a CNA is about $29,000/year and there are a few CNA requirements you need to know about.
How can I become a Certified Nursing Assistant?
There are a couple of routes that lead to a CNA certification like
- You can join a course provided by a two-year community college or by a specialized school.
- You can enroll for a Nurse Aide training program provided by healthcare facilities like long-term care or nursing centers.
Once you finalize the institution (college, specialized school or healthcare facility), you must attend an information session and inquire about the length of the course/training, the fees involved, job placement, etc. Note that it is important to choose a state-approved educational facility.
What are the minimum educational qualifications required to join a CNA course?
Some educational institutions require you to obtain a High School Diploma or pass the General Education Development (GED). Some institutions do not require these certifications. Such schools’ CNA requirements need students to be proficient in simple mathematics, speaking, reading, communicating and writing. Some institutions may require you to take the Test of Adult Basic education (TABE).
Are there any age requirements?
The age requirements depend on the CNA training facility. Many schools offer the Nurse Aide course to 16-year old students while healthcare facilities and nursing schools do not admit students who are below 18 years.
What will I learn in a CNA course?
You will learn theory in the classroom and practice of the profession in the laboratory and in clinics. Clinical rotations and laboratory studies are essential because they help you gain experience and practical skills. You will learn human anatomy, nutrition, infections, patients’ rights, legalities surrounding the profession, body mechanics, blood testing, etc.
Here are some tasks you will become proficient in after completing the course:
- Providing basic care to adults of all ages
- Ensuring patient security and safety
- Controlling and preventing yourself and the patient from catching infectious diseases
- Optimizing movements in a way that prevent injury
- Communicating effectively
- Assisting patients with their basic living activities
- Feeding the patient (in whatever condition he may be)
- Understanding and responding to health issues faced by patients in long-term care facilities
- Measuring blood pressure, temperature, etc. (taking vital signs)
- Maintaining hygiene
- Ensuring effective documentation and systematic reporting
- Ambulating patients
- Providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation
- Providing basic life support services
What does the CNA certification exam involve?
There are two parts to the CNA test – written and practical (skills). The written test is based on the theory lessons delivered in the classroom. The test comprises of about 70-75 multiple choice questions. The student must score over 70% in the written test.
The skills test will require you to demonstrate a set of any 5 skills that are arbitrarily selected from the complete set of 25 nursing skills. You would have obtained experience in all nursing skills in clinical rotations. You will be required to demonstrate these skills on a mock or an actual patient. You need to score over 75% in this test.
If you pass both the exams, you will earn the CNA certification and get listed in the state’s Nurse Registry. If you fail the exam, then you will typically get 2 more chances to ace it. Any CNA certification needs to be renewed every two years.
Do different states have different CNA requirements?
Yes. You must ensure that your listing in the state registry is current and active. To qualify, your state may require you to meet any one or more of the following requirements:
- Successful completion of a state-approved CNA training program
- Passing a written competency test
- Successful completion of a nursing arts course like Nursing 101, Basics in Nursing, etc.
- Passing a physical examination for conditions like tuberculosis, etc.
- Providing a criminal background check (including fingerprints)
- CNAs who are employed in nursing care facilities are regulated by the federal government. Such nurse aides must receive 75 hours of training that is approved by the state.
For further information about your state’s requirements check out the corresponding CNA training in your state page!
What is the CNA Registry all about?
Every state has its Nurse Aide Registry. The objective of the Registry is to keep track of people who are allowed to function as CNAs. The Registry also lists nurse aides who have been found guilty of misconduct, abuse, negligence or misappropriation. The Registry can be accessed over the phone and your employer will check the Registry before employing you.
Finally, a few words about something important as well as CNA requirements like employment outlook and earning potential. Per a 2009 report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for nursing assistants are expected to grow by 19% from 2008 to 2018 mainly because the number of senior Americans will increase, and the 2012 median salary of a CNA is around $29,000. Therefore, starting a CNA training today is definitely a good choice for establishing a successful and rewarding healthcare career.
State Nurse Aide Registry List: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/hcpr/links.html