How to Become a CNA
Certified nursing assistants provide supplemental services to nursing staff. They usually work in senior homes or hospitals, attending to patients who need help with bathing, using the bathroom, moving about, eating and dressing. They also help with medical equipment and taking patients' vitals.
Learning about Being a CNA
Know the responsibilities of a CNA.CNA stands for certified nursing assistant. Being a CNA means being a member of a health team and working under the supervision of a certified nurse.
- A CNA's job is hands-on. You provide care to patients, residents, clients, and customers. It's a busy job and hours are usually long.
- A CNA's work is generally in the realm of non-invasive procedures. Assistance is a big part of the job. You will help with bathing, toilet issues, dressing, eating, and oral care when patients cannot perform these tasks alone. You will also monitor vital signs and assure a patient's dietary restrictions are met.
- While the job is not glamorous, it is important. You're essentially responsible for assuring patients are treated with dignity and respect and bridging the communication gap between doctors, nurses, and patients. Important information is transferred from patient to nurse/doctor via the CNA.
Ask to shadow a CNA for a day.A CNA is not like other professional pursuits. It's highly rewarding work but also very challenging. As so much of the profession involves hands-on care, the best way to know if you're up to the task is to witness a CNA in action.
- If you are a high school or college student, your school might have a program where you can shadow professionals. Check with your principle or with the Office of Student Affairs and see if you can set something up with CNA in your area.
- Call local hospitals. Even if they don't have pre-existing programs for shadowing nursing assistants, they might be willing to work with you if you express interest.
- This is also a great way to make career connections that could be vital in finding a job down the line. Stay in touch with the CNA you shadow and do not hesitate to ask them for career advice.
Educate yourself on career expectations.While some people choose CNA as a longterm career, others use it as a stepping stone to other medical professions. Figure out why you want to become a CNA and whether you hope to advance to other positions. Carefully consider what a career as a CNA looks like before making any major decisions.
- Compassion is key to becoming a successful CNA. You must have a genuine desire to help people that will fuel you through difficult times. The environment of a hospital or nursing home is fast-paced, and many young CNA's feel initially overwhelmed by the position.
- A CNA is not a high paying job, especially when compared to the salaries of nurses and doctors. However, on the upside CNA's are always in great demand. The lack of direct care has been a major issue in hospitals across the country. While the position may not pay as much as others, job security and availability is greater.
- You might not plan to stay a CNA forever. A CNA is often used as a stepping stone to becoming a nurse or doctor and the experience of working with patients hands-on is invaluable to a medical career. Your capacity for bedside manner, compassion, and communication can be greatly enhanced by having years of CNA experience going into the medical field.
Learn about local regulations and requirements.Depending on the state you plan to work in, requirements for becoming a CNA vary. Regardless of the state you're living in, however, you can expect some form of training and a certification exam.
- Check local regulations first. You can call a local hospital and someone should be able to provide answers there. Find out exactly what the requirements are in your state before enrolling in any training programs.
- In addition to local regulations, check with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. A wide variety of institutions offer training programs and you can find a list of programs in your area.
Enroll in and complete a training program.Once you have identified the specific regulations for your state, enroll in a training program that suits your needs.
- Typically, programs last from 4 to 16 weeks. Make time to fully engage in the program and get the most out of the experience.
- Pay-to-learn programs are often offered a nursing homes or health care facilities. These can be a great option if you're on a budget. They generally run 2 to 6 weeks and are usually full time. In exchange for free classes and education, you're required to work a certain number of hours each week at the facility. This can be a great way to save money and gain hands-on experience that will look good during the job hunt.
- The Red Cross and local community colleges usually offer 6 month courses that cost between 0 and 0. The benefit of such courses over pay-to-learn programs is that training tends to be more extensive. Students tend to feel more confident coming out of such programs.
Prepare for your certification exam.Once you have completed your training, there is a state certification exam you need to pass in order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
- You can begin preparing by knowing what to expect. Most state CNA exams are divided into two sections: the written section and a clinical skills test. You must pass both sections in order to become certified. Most states require a score of at least 70% for both sections to pass.
- There are practice tests available online that can help you know what kind of information you can expect to be tested on. It's slightly harder to study for the clinical skills test, as it's more hands-on, but brushing up on procedures is a good way to prepare.
- Ask CNA's you worked with during your training about the exam. Ask them what areas they found most challenging and anything you can do to improve your chances of passing.
- Form study groups. Network with the other students you met during training and form study groups. This is a great motivator to get studying. If you have questions or areas that confuse you, your peers can help you sort these things out.
Take the state exam.Once you feel prepared, sign up to the take the state exam and show up on your scheduled time and date.
- Figure out costs. Generally, the cost to take the CNA exam is around #100 but this varies from state to state.
- When you go in to take the test, you'll need two forms of identification, at least one of which is a picture ID. Leave all personal items, like cell phones and purses, outside the testing area. Some states require you to bring someone to act as your patient during the clinical skills portion of the exam.
- You must complete the written exam, which is in multiple choice format, within 2 hours. The clinical skills test, where you perform medical skills in front of evaluators, will take about 35 to 45 minutes.
Know what to do if you do not pass the test the first time.Yet again, requirements vary from state-to-state but you can retake the exam.
- Depending on which portion you failed, and your score, some states may require you to wait a period of 2 weeks to 90 days before retaking the exam. Check with your local certification board.
- Some states are stricter about the CNA exam and require you to redo your training in addition to retaking the test. Know your state's requirement.
- Figure out why you failed. Sometimes, people fail the exam due to anxiety rather than actually lacking the required knowledge. If this is the case with you, try to figure out how to keep your nervousness in check the next time you take the exam.
Decide where you want to work.As a CNA, you can work in a wide array of facilities, from nursing homes to hospitals to hospices. Do your research and decide which path is right for you.
- Check local job listings and look online. See where CNA's are in high demand. This can be a great start to narrowing your search.
- What are your career goals? Do you want to be a lifelong CNA? If so, a nursing home or hospice may be right choice for you. You'll be working with patients for longer terms than you would in a hospital, where patients come and go quickly. If you're looking to become a registered nurse or doctor someday, hospital experience may be a better option.
- Be careful. Some hospitals and health care facilities have been known to hire CNA's in replace of registered nurses, which is illegal.Websites like Nursing Home Inspection will provide information on a facilities recent inspection, allowing you to identify any concerning complaints or issues.
Find and apply for jobs.Once you've gotten a sense of your options, you can begin the application process. Apply for a multitude of positions to give yourself a variety of options when you begin hearing back.
- Online job boards, like Indeed and SimplyHired, can be great resources for finding positions. However, they attract a high volume of applications. Do not get discouraged if it takes quite a few applications before you hear back from anyone.
- Ask around. Use the connections you gained during training and the certification process. If you worked in a hospital during training, check in to see if that hospital is hiring. They're more likely to select a candidate they know and trust over a stranger's application.
- Network with fellow CNA's you met during training. If a colleague finds a job, they might be able to put in a good word for you if their place of employment is hiring.
Know what continuing education you may need.Once again, requirements vary from state to state but many states require you to continue your education each year to maintain your license. This means taking further classes at health care facilities and community colleges. Check with your state's governing board to make sure you meet all the requirements to keep your license up-to-date through the years.
QuestionWhat is the cost of becoming a CNA?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe cost is around 65 for the exam, training course, and certification.Thanks!
QuestionCan I obtain books to study on my own and then take the test?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI believe you will have to at least enroll in a training program of some sort, but you can check your state's individual requirements to see if there is an option to train yourself prior to the test.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get a good grade on my CNA test?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStudy.Thanks!
I completed 2 terms in the LVN program. Can I apply for the CNA certificate without testing?
What score is needed to pass CNA test?
If I'm not fluent in English, can I still be a CNA?
What are the subjects I need to take to become a CNA?
Does anyone know any place in Alabama that I can apply for?
- If you're considering nursing school, becoming a CNA can be a great start. Not only does it look great on an application, you'll know the ins and outs of a hospital setting.
- There is little room for advancement as a nursing aide. You could be promoted to a supervisory position amongst fellow CNAs, but you cannot become a nurse without going through more schooling. A common path for young professionals is to begin their coursework for an associates degree after becoming certified, and then eventually progressing on to a bachelors degree.
- Your employer may be willing to reimburse your for your further education as it adds value to your company as you progress, but this is not always the case and there is sometimes a catch. Many tuition reimbursement programs require you to remain at your current employer for a set amount of time after the completion of your coursework, so be sure to read the fine print.
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