Many individuals elect to do a short CNA degree instead of the full three years it takes to become a Registered Nurse because they are not sure that nursing is really the right career for them. Studying to become a Certified Nurse Assistant, which only takes between six to twelve weeks, is the ideal solution for those who are not sure whether they really want to become nurses, or even whether they want to go into the medical field or not.
There is currently a worldwide shortage of nursing staff in the world, and the United States is no exception. Without competent and well-trained nursing staff to back up medical staff such as doctors, radiologists, physiotherapists and the like, it is impossible for them to give a patient the full care they require, which impacts on their recovery time. Although many people may think that a Certified Nurse Assistant is a lowly job or qualification, it is a crucial post in all medical facilities, as it is these caring souls that see to a patient’s most basic needs and comfort, without which their recovery would take much longer.
Who Should Train To Become A Certified Nurse Assistant?
Those individuals who have an interest in the medical profession but are not sure what exactly they want to do or whether they are suited to it make ideal candidates for a CNA degree. Becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant is a calling for many, and it takes a dedicated, emotionally mature, physically able person to whom the help they can give is more important than a huge salary to do this critically important job.
People who have compassion, have good communication skills, and love to help others in need and pain, and those with a yen to be involved in the medical profession but who do not have a degree or the time or finances to embark on a long period of study, should also seriously look into taking the short course to become a Certified Nurse Assistant. This qualification will have them working within a matter of weeks, as opposed to years.
There are also other advantages of doing a CNA course, such as being able to provide care for loved ones who require nursing but have not got the financial means to pay for a private nurse or an extended hospital stay, such as someone who is a cancer patient or has suffered a stroke.
What Are The Duties Of A Certified Nurse Assistant?
The main duty of a CNA is to provide patient care, which includes medical and non-medical care. The title in itself explains that a CNA is an assistant to a registered nurse, and thus generally works under the supervision of an RN and takes on some of the duties of the RN.
A Certified Nurse Assistant will:
- Collect samples
- Deliver messages
- Make patients’ beds
- Maintain patients’ medical records
- Measure and record vital signs and performs various diagnostic tests
- Share advice with patients regarding at-home treatment of their condition
- Help patients perform certain activities such as eating, dressing and bathing
- Change dressings on wounds
- Need to be strong as they often have to lift patients and help with physiotherapy
- Assist patients who are not 100% ambulatory by pushing gurneys, assisting them in and out of and pushing their wheelchairs etc.
- May need to perform CPR
- Is on their feet for long periods at a time
- Liaise with a patient’s family/loved ones regarding treatment and/or death
- Form meaningful relationships and strong connections with patients they tend to, as they deal with them more than any other medical staff do
What Are The Requirements To Do A Certified Nurse Assistant Course?
The only academic qualification necessary to undertake a course to get your CNA degree, is a GED or high school diploma. Applicants must also be a minimum of eighteen years of age, and may be tested on reading, writing and learning skills by the institution before being able to enroll in a course.
Many institutions will also require you to provide proof of vaccinations, and tests for tuberculosis, and complete health checkups are mandatory. You may also not have a record of any police offences, and must be addiction-free and not be engaged in any behavior that is in any way illegal.
What Does A CNA Degree Course Consist Of?
The training schedule for this course differs from institution to institution, and can cover a period of anything from 2 to 6 months. Training schedules also depend on the needs of the state wherein you wish to work. No matter whether you study online or on a campus though, the basic elements of all the courses remain the same and the theoretical includes anatomy, basic health care, nutrition, and the mechanics of the human body, personal care abilities, and communication skills.
Apart from the theoretical side of the course, students are required to complete one hundred hours of fieldwork wherein they will put the theory that they have learned into practice at a medical facility. This in-service training will be done under supervision of a Registered Nurse or even a Licensed Practical Nurse, and it is imperative that you make the best of this training as it is very important in gaining your degree.
Once you have completed the full course, at an accredited institution, including the requisite number of hours of practical training, you need to register to sit for the NCLEX-PN exams for certification. Reputable institutions will generally assist you with this and will also offer help so that you can successfully pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Once you have passed this exam you will be a Certified Nursing Assistant, and your name will be added to the registry.
Once you are registered you can apply to a medical facility of your choosing for employment. Many institutions have arrangements with local institutions to take a percentage of their graduates, and this is often the same facility at which the graduate completed their practical training. If the institution with which you studied does not have such an agreement then it falls to you to approach various institutions in order to gain employment. Remember that it is usually far easier to approach the institution at which you did your field training.
The types of institutions that you can approach for employment are hospitals, medical clinics, old-age homes, frail-care facilities, physiotherapist offices, dental practices, and nursing homes. You could also elect to do private home-care.
Where Can I Do A CNA Degree Course?
CNA degree courses are offered by various reputable trade-schools, universities, colleges and other training facilities such as the Red Cross. These institutions are registered, and they are also accredited to offer the CNA course, and offer top-class training from highly-qualified trainers. Training can also be done online; just ensure that whichever institution you choose is reputable and accredited.
Advantages Of Classroom CNA Courses
Not everyone finds it easy to study online, as they may have problems in focusing on their studies or experience other setbacks. On-campus studying definitely has distinct advantages for those individuals:
- Direct interaction with lecturers/professors.
- The ability to immediately resolve any problems or difficulties you have in understanding any portion of the course.
- The ability to discuss the work with fellow classmates face-to-face.
- Being in a learning atmosphere with others makes it easier to pay attention.
- Easier access to the practical portion of the course, as this is organized by the institution at which you are studying.
- Longer periods of fieldwork are usual with on-campus courses.
For those who are disciplined enough to study via online courses, this form of study has some great advantages over on-campus studies:
- Flexibility is one of the major advantages of online study, as it means that you can study when it suits you, according to your schedule. This means that you can raise a family or even work whilst undertaking your studies, as you can go online at night or over weekends.
- Savings on transport are really important if you are unemployed, as you can study at least the theoretical portion of the course without leaving your home.
- Accelerated or lengthened study time means that you can get through the course quicker if you grasp the fundamentals quickly or can take longer if you are having a busy time with other considerations or are struggling with a specific portion of the course material.
- Featured Video Streaming classes are a very important part of online courses because it means that you can view the videos when it suits you, and can view them more than once if necessary, to grasp the information.
- Easy access to information; as you are already on the Internet it is a snap to research further information as per the curriculum.
- The cost of online courses is generally far less than that charged for attending classes on a campus, which makes them far more accessible to many more people.
- Online forums are an easy way of interacting with fellow students and lecturers, and many online lecturers also make use of e-mail to correspond with their students.
If you are intending doing your degree via an online institution, make sure that they offer the prescribed minimum of 50 hours of theoretical training and that you can access a minimum of 100 quality hours of clinical sessions. Many of them have agreements with various medical institutions that their students perform the practical portion of their course there. If the institution does not organize in-field training, then you can approach any medical facility in your neighborhood and organize it yourself; most facilities, especially the larger ones can always do with extra help in this area. You can approach medical centers, hospitals, clinics, old-age homes and so on.
Free Online CNA Degree Courses
Some of the universities and colleges that offer Certified Nurse Assistant courses charge an astronomical amount of money, whether for on-campus or online studies. For those who cannot afford to pay to do a course, there are other alternatives. There are various reputable institutions offering CNA courses for free.
Various hospitals and medical centers will employ you and offer free training while you are working for them, either in a voluntary capacity or for a stipend. The obvious advantage of this type of course is that it is free, but over and above that, it means that you will get the best practical training you could wish for as you will be training in the facility in which you will be employed and working. This means that you will get to know the facility and the way they work as well as all the staff whilst you are still doing your training, which is a great advantage.
Just because you do not have to pay top-dollar for a course does not mean that the course is in any way less genuine, or that the CNA degree is worth any less, as long as you take certain aspects into consideration when selecting your training institution:
- Ensure that the institution is registered as a training facility.
- Ensure that the institution is accredited to give the CNA degree course.
- Ensure that the course and the qualification adhere to the standards as laid down by the local authorities.
- Try to speak to graduates of that institution and get their opinion of the course.
- Choose the institution by applying the 3 As – Affordability, Accessibility, and Accountability.
How Can I Get Finance To Do A CNA Degree?
Whether you are intending doing your degree by going to school on campus or online, you may need to access finance in order to pay the tuition fees. There are essentially three different types of loans that you can access for your studies.
A private loan through a financial institution can be accessed if you have a good credit rating. The amount, interest-rate and repayment terms will be determined by the financial institution according to various criteria. Many academic institutions also offer bursaries or loans with flexible payment options. Some online research will give you all the information you need in this regard.
There are also various government student loans which you could access for your studies. You can access this information from the training facilities, as every accredited training facility has a list of government grants that are available to students who require assistance to study to enter a career in the health industry. As you can see, there is plenty of assistance out there for those wishing to do a CNA degree so don’t let anything or anyone stop you.