A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, needs to complete a CNA clinical on her path to becoming fully qualified in this entry-level aspect of nursing. CNA training consists of two sides:
- Theory training, in which you will learn the coursework required to complete this qualification
- Clinical training, during which you will get the required hands-on experience needed to be a nurse assistant
Because nurse is a very practical job, many people see the hands-on training section of the course as being the most important.
What Is A CNA?
A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, is a health care worker that works on the frontlines of patient care. The tasks they perform involve basic day-today care for a patient’s immediate needs. CNAs cannot function autonomously and require strict supervision form qualified nurses in all that they do. A CNA is actively involved in the following day-to-day tasks:
- Personal Hygiene: One major task of a CNA is to assist patients in maintaining their personal hygiene by brushing their teeth, helping them shower/bath, washing them in bed, and keeping their hair clean.
- Infection Control: Germs spread easily and quickly in a hospital setting. As a CNA you need to keep up with the latest development in germ spread prevention technology and procedures and implement those procedures efficiently.
- Dietary Care: Another main function of a CNA is to ensure that your patients are eating enough of the correct food to facilitate their personal recovery.
- Administering Treatments: There are a few limited treatments that a CNA can administer or help administer.
- Reporting: Accurate reporting of the patient’s vital signs and condition forms a big part of the job.
- Emotional Support: Patients in a health care setting require emotional support tin addition to physical care.
What Is A CNA Clinical?
CNA clinicals have the following features and purposes:
- They are the equivalent of internships and residencies for doctors in that they give you real life hands-on experience
- They give you a chance to work with real patients in a supervised setting before being forced to work on your own as an RN
- Your clinicals count towards your grade, and sometimes make up your entire grade, as teachers use them to evaluate their students
- In a CNA clinical training course you will be rotated through a variety of departments, thereby getting a feel for the different areas of nursing
- You will work alongside trained nurses and other health care professionals, giving you a feel for how a health care team works in reality
- Although you will also receive training in a classroom setting, this theory knowledge merely supplements your clinical training and cannot replace it
- You may also be given the opportunity to practice your clinical knowledge in simulated settings where no one’s life is at risk
- Your CNA clinical training can be very stressful and intensive, especially at first, but you will be very glad of it once it is over
Reasons For Doing CNA Clinicals
Completing the CNA clinical portion of your training program is extremely important. The reasons for doing these hands-on training programs are, for the most part, self-evident. Nurses who look on their clinical training as an unfortunate trial that they have to get through in order to be certified may want to reexamine their motivation for becoming a nurse. The clinical part of your training should be seen as the most important as well as the most exciting portion of your educational journey to becoming a CNA. As a CNA you will be required to engage in a number of very practical tasks throughout your career that cannot be adequately taught through theory work. As the job of a CNA is in itself a very practical job, the brief CNA training you will go through will consist mainly of CNA clinical work. If you do not have the time for your clinical tasks you will also struggle to find the time to do a job as CNA as the fast-paced, work-intensive career comes with inconvenient hours and low pay. If you do not love the clinical side of the job, you will not be a very happy nurse’s assistant.
Satisfy Program Requirements
CNA courses are substantially shorter than many other nursing courses, such as those that LPNs and RNs complete. However, a large portion of this course consists of practical training which must be completed in order for your qualification to be approved. Thus your CNA clinical work is part of the program requirements that you have to meet in order to be a CNA. The hands-on portion of your training will prepare you for all of the work that you will have to do in your CNA career. Some CNA training programs allow you to receive your hands-on training while engaged in the theory side of your coursework. However the usual rule is that you have to complete the required amount of theory training before you will be able to begin your CNA clinical training. The clinical portion of your training will be carefully supervised by an expert in the field, usually an LPN or an RN. This will help you prepare for the fact that you will need to take order from LPNs, RNs, and other health care professionals once you are qualified to work as a CNA.
Experience Different Work Environments
Certified nursing assistants are needed in practically every health care facility out there. Consequently there are a number of different working environments that you can be exposed to as a CNA. During your CNA clinical training you will be given the opportunity to work in a variety of vastly different healthcare settings, each of which has its own methodology and procedures. Different patients are treated differently. For example you do not treat newborn babies with the same methods as you would treat adults or elderly patients. Consequently there are a number of different work environments available to you and your CNA clinical training is a good way to get your first taste of what employment opportunities are available.
If you plant to advance your nursing career by becoming an LPN or an RN you will find that the more experience you have in a wider selection of settings at CNA level, the better your chances of receiving a job in a good facility once you are qualified as a licensed practical nurse or as a registered nurse. A wide variety of nursing environments will help you as a CNA, but it is also a good way to advance your nursing career in general.
Gain Hands-On Experience
Because being a certified nursing assistant is a very practical job, hands-on experience is the main purpose of a CNA clinical course. Some of the advantages of gaining hands-on experience are that:
- You will have the opportunity to engage in interaction with doctors, patients and other nurses, giving you an idea of the CNA field and allowing you to become comfortable with the communication and interaction patterns used in a healthcare setting.
- You will begin to develop an understanding of how the health care team functions and what your correct place, as a CNA, is in the hierarchy of that health care team.
- You will be given insight into the expectations of nurses.
- You will be given insight into the demands of the profession.
- You will be given insight into the proper work etiquette and attire.
- You will begin to develop an understanding of how to interact with patients appropriately without overstepping your boundaries as a CNA.
- You will, most importantly of all, be given the opportunity to practice and apply all you have learned throughout your coursework, which is extremely important as theory work cannot replace actual real life experience in nursing.
How Can I Be Prepared For A Clinical Course?
There are a number of ways in which you can prepare for you first CNA clinical day in order to make it substantially less frightening for you. Firstly you should always be prepared. When you come to class on your first clinical day, and on every other day after that, bring your drug book, care plan, stethoscope and a pen and paper so you can jot down any useful remarks that the instructor makes. It is essential to always be on time for your clinical. If you are not, you will give your instructor a bad perception of you that can affect your final score. You will also need to be on time in your career as a CNA, so now is a good time to start practicing. Before you start your first CNA clinical you will be informed of the dress code. Follow this code exactly as you do not want to draw unnecessary negative attention to yourself. Read up on the skills that you may be expected to show in the first few days of clinical training and think of ways in which you can subtly show your instructor that you have prepared. You should be very careful not to trust people on your first few days and to only do what your instructor, and nobody else, tells you. There are many things that CNAs in training may not do. Do not go beyond the scope of practice or limits the instructor has set. It does not matter if you have been an LPN for 15 years and have been passing meds during that time. If the instructor says you cannot give meds without her supervision, don’t. Never look unprofessional.
Where Can I Get My Clinical Experience?
CNA Clinical Training In Hospitals
Because CNA training is intensive in practical experience, an actual hospital setting is one of the best places to earn your qualification as a CNA. The CNA clinical work will be a good reflection of what you will do in your actual job.
CNA Clinical Training At Vocational And Community Colleges
These are very popular options for studying to become a CNA< but it must be noted that the CNA clinical training that you do will not be done at the college itself, but rather at a nearby participating health care facility.
CNA Clinical Training In Nursing Homes
Community and vocational colleges are the most popular places to receive CNA training, but for a strong focus in CNA clinical training nursing homes are good bet. They often offer free hands-on training in order to combat staffing shortages on the condition that you work for them for a certain period of time after qualifying.
Red Cross CNA Clinical Training
According to cntraininghelp.com “Red Cross offers one of the best training options available in the United States. Through its chapters located throughout the country, it offers one of the most thorough and properly recognized CNA course available today”.
The Problem With Online Training Schools
Studying for your CNA qualification online comes with one very specific problem: there is no way at all to complete clinical training in an online setting. This means that you can only complete the theory training section of your qualification in this way. A website that claims to offer a full qualification entirely online must be treated with suspicion as 1) it probably isn’t accredited, and 2) it is not being honest with you. That being said there is nothing wrong with completing y9our theory work online as long as the school is an accredited one and as long as you do your clinical training in a real health care setting after you complete the online course.
CNA clinicals are a necessary part of your training, and you will enjoy the more if you look on them as the main purpose of your training. Nursing is, after all, a very practical and hands-on career, so you should not begrudge the hours of clinical training that you are obligated to receive as your CNA clinical is that you need to be well prepared for your career.