If you have an interest in the medical field but you don’t want to become a doctor or any other kind of medical professional, you could register to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA. CNA skills are similar to those of medical practitioners in that you need to be empathetic, patient and have a good head for potential diagnoses.
Becoming a CNA requires a lot of qualities but there is a lot of room to specialize if you prefer one type of work over another. This is a world based on people skills and on getting to know yourself and what you are good at, while you help others. For example, you may decide to work in the geriatric field rather than the pediatric field, but either way, will grow yourself.
So how do you know if you have CNA skills? How can you determine whether this is the right career path for you? Well, consider these scenarios:
- In the geriatric unit, you will be faced not just with those who have aged, but also those who are suffering from problems associated with their age, such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Emphysema. Some of the patients will be friendly and sweet, while others will be grumpy, moody and downright mean. All of these behaviors are associated with their age, but you are the one who has to deal with them.
- For those who think pediatrics are better, consider this: the pediatric unit is home not just to children who are ill, but also to those children and adults who suffer from mental retardation and other forms of brain damage. This means that you will be dealing with children who have severe behavioral problems, and like the elderly, you never know how they will behave.
If in reading this description, you were thinking, “Sounds like I can do a lot of good,” then you have the CNA skills needed for this field. If your reaction was negative, then maybe this is not the career for you.
CNA Skills For Those Entering The Field
To become a CNA, you need a couple of personality and physical traits that are essential to the job, namely:
- Patience: Learning CNA skills is a long and drawn out process, and requires a lot of patience. When you’re dealing with patients who tend to be moody, grumpy and angry, you will need a lot of patience too, and a firm hold on your temper. If you tend to have a short fuse, or you don’t like dealing with people, then following the road to becoming a CNA may not be for you.
- Distance: Although you may feel as though you are saving the world, a good CNA can distance themselves from their patients. It is hard not to get emotionally involved, but a CNA who knows what he or she is doing will be objective and not get involved in the personal lives of patients.
- Physicality: In some cases, you will be called upon to lift patients or materials that are bigger than you are. In these cases, you will need physical strength. This is not a job for the petite.
- Why you’re doing it: Consider why you want to become a CNA. If it is for the money, know that you probably won’t make very much. Only those who see it as a calling should pursue it.
- Determination: Each day that passes will test your patience and your determination. You may have to face some pretty scary sights, from human waste to blood and who-knows-what-else. This is not a job for those with a weak constitution. Also, you will likely be tested in your determination to do the job each day, and will be questioned constantly. Only those with a strong sense of determination will make it.
Becoming a CNA is a calling, and those who wish to do it know that you are doing your bit to contribute to the health of the world. But it is not an easy job. That is why those with CNA skills are to be commended for the contributions they make, and those who are not completely committed to it should not pursue this career.
How To Learn CNA Skills And Get A Job
Becoming a CNA is not difficult, despite all of the statements made above. However, the area in which you live will generally determine not just the amount of time you need to spend studying, but also the type of environment in which you will work. You can get more information on learning CNA skills or becoming a CNA from a government organization or even by doing a search on the internet. If you use your local search engine, type in CNA and your area. This will help you identify the facilities that can help you on your path to becoming a CNA.
A CNA is often known by a variety of names such as a nurse aide, orderly, patient care technician or even home health aide. Usually, you can learn while you earn, which entails taking short courses while you start working. However, these are generally not with accredited institutions, and the certificate you receive will only help you in that specific job.
In exchange for the training, you will also be required to work at that institution for a period of time, and though this means you probably won’t have to pay for the training, it does restrict you to staying with the company. Another option is to seek training with the Red Cross. These classes tend to be pricey, but the Red Cross is an accredited institution, which carries a lot more weight.
Of course, there is no comparison to learning on the job. Though getting formal training is very important, you will gain valuable experience in your first year of actually working. This is why it is valuable for anyone just starting out in the field to shadow someone else, or assist other CNAs. To qualify, you will be asked to take a written test and a practical test, to determine whether you have gained enough knowledge to become a CNA.
When taking the written tests, remember to go over your notes and learn health and safety rules. In the practical test, remember to go slowly and breathe when you feel you are getting too nervous. You may be asked to demonstrate all types of skills, from locking wheelchairs to raising bed rails. These skills are vital since they protect the safety of your potential patients.
Remember the importance of good health too, and wash your hands. It is also important to demonstrate respect, so be sure to knock on the door before entering a room and be polite to patients. These measures will gain your extra points, since part of CNA skills is a good demeanor. Once you have passed your written and practical tests, you can make the decision on where you wish to work, or in what field you will specialize.
Where Should You Work?
So once you have completed your CNA skills training, where will you work? There are a lot of places that need CNAs, but you should in essence follow your heart. A great way to decide on the right place for you is to try a few different locations. That way, you can compare the different types of jobs that you could potentially be doing and decide on what you suits you best. It is also a good idea to ask around. Ask other CNAs, especially those with a lot of experience what they think you will be best suited to. You may decide to go with becoming a home care aide rather than working in pediatrics or even become a teacher’s aide in a special school.
It is absolutely vital that no matter where you go, you gauge the atmosphere of the place. You want to work in a place where CNAs are respected and where you feel your contribution will be valued. CNAs are in demand due to the pressures of the job, so no matter where you finally decide to go, know that your contribution is very necessary.
Your choices generally include:
- Pediatrics – working with children can be very rewarding, but in this case you also may be working with those who have mental deficiencies. This means you need to be very patient and kind.
- Geriatrics – if you choose to work with the elderly, know that you may need to buckle down to some difficult tasks, such as changing adult diapers, bathing your patients and even assisting in administering medication. You will be faced with resistance, bad moods and even physical problems, but the reward is great too.
- Home aide – if you prefer to go into the private sector, you can assist with home care for those who need it, either due to advanced age or because they suffer from an ailment. This means you will be a companion and may have to assist in physical therapy and the like. The job is strenuous and you will only be interacting with one other person, but it can build a strong friendship.
- General hospital work – you can also work in a hospital environment, either in general work or in a specialized department, such as cardiology. This could mean talking to patients, assisting doctors in their work and even performing some of the duties that other nurses should be performing.
CNA skills are not easy to come by and unlike what most people think, they are inherent in certain individuals. If you have the drive and the passion to become a CNA, you can do very well, though it is doubtful that you will earn a huge amount of money. However, if you want to be engaged in a job where you are constantly helping people and making a contribution to a better world, then becoming a CNA may be right for you.
If you are still at a crossroads in deciding which career path to pursue, and CNA skills is one of the options on your list, then do some careful research and exploration before you pursue it. Remember the important traits you will need to become a CNA. You will need a strong stomach and an even stronger sense of determination. You will need a lot of patience and a desire to help people. The most successful CNAs are all about people. They love interacting with people, talking to people and learning from other people.
CNA training takes time, so a commitment to this field should not be half hearted. If you do choose to pursue this field, it will help you to take biology and languages while you are still at school. This will give you a basic idea of how the human body works and what can potentially go wrong, and will allow you to communicate effectively with potential patients, even those who do not speak the same language as you do.
If you are considering becoming a CNA, consider how this will affect your future income. As a CNA, you will be able to survive, but you will not be rich, and in some cases, may even have to supplement your income by getting a second job. However, if none of these things deter you and you are fully committed to a career as a CNA, then start pursuing your studies today.
One thing that is for sure if you have decided to pursue a career as a certified nursing assistant, you will learn a lot about yourself while you help others. You will grow immensely especially in the first year of working and will probably find that you are a lot more patient than you knew. You will also meet a lot of interesting people, do a lot of different types of jobs and become well-versed in issues relating to the human body. If you are a CNA, or planning to improve your CNA skills, you are valuable member of society and should be regarded as an excellent citizen, concerned with the well-being of the world.