Becoming a CNA is your entry ticket to the nursing profession in this country, but not everyone who would like to be part of the stable and ever-growing medical profession has the time necessary to complete a training course to become a CNA. That is why there are a number of fast track CNA courses available, although you have to be careful that you do not lose out on some of the essential information that a longer course may provide you with.
About Being A CNA
As a CNA you will be responsible for the basic healthcare needs of the patient population for which you are in charge of caring. Generally speaking you will be the member of the healthcare team who has the lowest level of education and expertise, but that just means that there is plenty of room for improvement. As a CNA you will usually work with individuals and help them to function to the best of their ability. Some of the basic tasks that a CNA will perform include the following:
- Checking blood pressure
- Checking oxygen levels
- Helping individuals with hygiene
- Helping individuals with food intake
- Helping individuals with hydration
- Changing bandages
Usually a CNA’s duties will be limited to basic care and they will have to work under the supervision of a nurse with advanced qualifications in the field, such as an LPN or even an RN.
- Theoretical book works, and
- Hands-on training
Both are equally essential. The test that you need to pass to become a CNA is one that is based largely on theoretical knowledge that you will need to read and digest. All of the questions will be based on theory knowledge. On the other hand, because nursing is such a hands-on career, there will also be a high concentration of clinical and practical experience. You will need this in order to be able to fully understand the theory work. In addition you will need to be able to show proof that you have completed a certain number of hours of clinical experience in order to become certified at the end of the day.
Both of these aspects should be included in any fast track CNA training program and it is worth your while to look into the many options of this kind that are available so that you can complete your training and join the workforce as quickly as you possibly can.
Fast Track CNA Courses
There are a number of fast track CNA courses that are in fact paid opportunities. In many private care facilities you can work as a CNA and get all of the training and experience that you need on the job. Facilities that have these training programs include:
- Nursing homes
- Group homes
- Home health care companies
The biggest advantage here is that you can work as a CNA and earn money while learning at the same time. This is an instant way to join the workforce.
If you have another job that you would like to hold onto until your training is complete, or if you cannot gain entrance to a fast track program of this kind, it is suggested that you attend evening or online classes. These classes will take anything from 6 to 12 weeks to complete and the quicker the program is, the more it is likely to cost you in terms of tuition fees. This is a very important aspect to consider when looking into CNA training.
Who Should Do A Fast Track CNA Course?
Fast track CNA courses are not for everyone. In fact you should only consider a fast track course if you meet the following two requirements:
- You are an individual who already has some of the general knowledge of the skills required to be a CNA.
- You are an individual who wants to be certified within weeks so you can begin working as a CNA.
If there is no urgency in your particular case to begin working as soon as possible, you may prefer to consider a program that will take a little longer to complete as these programs give you more time to consider the work you are learning and really become familiar with it. In addition if you do not already have a fairly good idea of what you will need to do once you are a CNA you may find that a fast track CNA course is not the one that will be most beneficial for you. The reason why it is fast track is because the conveners assume that you already know many of the concepts involved.
The main purpose of a fast track CNA course is to prepare you as quickly and effectively for the CNA certification exam as possible. The exam that you need to take will consist of two sections:
- A knowledge based test on 55 multiple-choice questions about anatomy, physiology, nutrition, body mechanics, ethics, patient rights, nutrition and the skills of a CNA.
- A clinical examination on five of the 24 clinical skills of a CNA, such as assisting a patient walking, checking vitals or feeding a patient.
Some people believe that it is not possible for all students with all personality types to be properly prepared for these examinations unless they engage in a traditional course. This may be true, and success in a fast track CNA course depends, to a large degree, on your personal ability to complete a course such as that successfully an efficiently. Many people struggle with the intensity of the course. In addition these courses can be more expensive than traditional courses.
In order to become certified as a CNA you need to attend a program that is at least 75 hours long. In other words, you must have 75 contact hours under your belt before you can become qualified in this regard. An important point to note is that a fast track CNA course will mostly likely only meet the minimum number of hours required in order to for you to become certified. This means that you cannot miss a single lesson. Generally speaking, before you begin a fast track CNA course, you will be informed regarding whether or not the course requires 100% attendance. Because of the nature of the course this is almost always the case. In summary, you will not be able to become a CNA successfully through one of the fast track CNA courses on offer unless you are dedicated and make an effort to attend every single lesson and lecture that the course entails. If you miss a class, or even leave a lesson early, you may be expelled and students seldom receive refunds in these cases.
Considerations And Warnings
CNAs have the largest degree of contact with patients on a daily basis. Therefore they must meet the following requirements:
- CNAs must be comfortable with giving CPR
- CNAs must be comfortable with giving epinephrine injections
It is important to note that, in a fast track course, these aspects of your training may only be touched on once or twice at the most. In a longer and more comprehensive and traditional course you will be given multiple opportunities to learn and practice tasks such as these in order to ensure that you will be properly prepared for your job as a CNA when you graduate from the program.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these programs usually do not guarantee that you will pass the certification examination. The work is covered very briefly and you will need to engage in a large degree of self study in order to be properly prepared. In addition these courses can be more expensive. It is up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of fast track CNA courses and make a decision regarding whether or not they are worth it.
CNA Wages And Advancement
As a CNA the average hourly rate that you can earn is about $8.42 – $14.21. If you factor in overtime of $5.54 – $21.04 and a possible annual bonus of between $0.00 and $505, the overall salary range for a CNA is about $17,614 – $31,119 a year. Other factors can affect you salary. For example your choice of employer can play a role:
- HCR Manor Care Inc pays about $8.99 – $12.95 an hour
- Golden Living Centers pay about $8.30 – $13.92 an hour
- Life Care Centers of America pay about $8.65 – $14.17 an hour
- Kindred Healthcare pay about $8.79 – $14.42 an hour
- Home Health and Hospice Care pay about $8.13 – $12.70 an hour
There are also a number of industries that are more popular than others which also tend to pay different rates to CNAs. In a nursing home you can earn about $8.35 – $13.39, an hour, in a hospital you can earn about $8.76 – $15.17 on an hourly basis, in healthcare you can earn about $8.70 – $14.84 an hour, in the Health Care Services you can earn about $8.62 – $14.46, and in home health care settings you can earn about $7.93 – $13.20 an hour.
Men can earn slightly more than women at about $9.49 – $12.29 an hour in comparison to $9.36 – $12.24 an hour.
Another factor that plays a role is your level of education:
- With an Associate’s Degree you can earn about $8.76 – $14.27 an hour
- With a Bachelor’s Degree you can earn about $8.44 – $14.32 an hour
- With a GED or High School Diploma you can earn about $8.42 – $14.04 an hour
- With a Certificate (Cert), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) you can earn about $8.54 – $13.47 an hour
- With a High School Diploma you can earn about $8.27 – $14.12 an hour
Different cities tend to pay different wages. The 20 cities with the best hourly rates for CNAs are:
- Seattle, Washington
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Washington, District of Columbia
- San Jose, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Sacramento, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Madison, Wisconsin
- New York, New York
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Denver, Colorado
- Portland, Maine
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Sarasota, Florida
These are the salary opportunities that fast track CNA courses will give you access to.
Online CNA Courses
Although you will still need to make time to complete your hands-on training at an appropriate facility, it may be possible to complete your CNA training online. This could fast track your career path in that you will not have to work according to a classroom schedule but rather at your own speed. You can also put in extra work at night or after hours which will allow you to complete the online program more speedily. However these programs are certainly not for everyone. This requires a high level of self-motivation and dedication to the task. As you will probably be doing this on top of your day job, you may find that you are too tired to give the program your all. Many students need the guidance of a teacher or lecturer in order to do their best on a training program, and this will simply not be available if you are studying online.
Becoming a CNA will open up the door for you to advance in the nursing profession. Once you have a feel for the industry you will be able to decide whether you would like to go on to become an LPN, or perhaps even an RN in the nursing profession. Fast Track CNA Courses may be the best option to help you jump start your career in this line of work, but you must select such programs carefully.