Now that you have made the decision to become a CNA you need to know what your CNA program options are. There are many CNA programs out there and this article aims to provide you with all of the information you need to find the perfect one for you.
What Is A CNA?
A CNA is a nurse that does the absolute basics under the supervision of a more advanced nursing professional, such as an LPN or RN. Other names that you might have heard for CNAs include a Nursing Assistant, a Nursing Auxiliary, an Auxiliary Nurse, a Nurse Aide, a Home Health Aide, a Patient Care Assistant, a Patient Care Technician, a Geriatric Aide, a Psychiatric Aide, a Nurse Technician, or a Healthcare Support Worker. The main things that CNAs do include assisting patients with their daily activities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, grooming, and walking, observing patient’s behavior and reporting anything out of the ordinary, taking vital signs, such as the blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respiratory rates, assisting patients on mobilization and transferring, assisting in feeding and meal preparation, and last but not least assisting patients in their personal hygiene. These are all of the things that a CNA course will prepare you for. Good CNA programs are ones that contain all of the knowledge you need to be an effective and successful CNA in real life, so choose your CNA course carefully.
How Much Do CNA Programs Cost?
There are a great many things that affect the cost of programs such as:
- The state that you choose to study in.
- Whether or not the CNA program you attend is state funded or privately funded.
- The reputation of the school.
- The type of educational facility and/or program that you are enrolled in.
- The qualification offered by the CNA course.
That said it can be seen that on average the cost of certified nursing assistant program varies from amount $400 to about $1500. This is quite a big difference and can have a big effect on whether or not you are willing to enrol in that particular course. There are however financial aid options available for people wanting to nursing assistant programs, so if you are interested in getting your foot in the door of the medical field, don’t give up simply because you do not have the funds to study. There is a shortage of nursing professionals, so people are willing to try and solve this problem by providing aid to students who want to do CNA programs and CNA courses.
The Average Length Of A CNA Course
Most programs are quite short with the longest ones being no more than about 12 weeks in total. During this time you will have to do both clinical and theoretical training, both of which are essential if you want to become a certified nursing aid. CNA courses that do not include clinical practice are probably going to be a waste of time. This is because it is essential that you complete this aspect of your training in order to become properly certified and in order to be ready to work as a CNA in a real situation. The shorter the CNA program is that you choose to enrol in the higher the chances are that you will not be given the clinical training necessary to pass the examination. CNA programs need to give you this clinical training. This important factor simply cannot be stressed enough. Shorter certified nursing assistant programs may seem very attractive to you, but how do you know that you are being properly prepared? Rather spend the little extra time and get a good qualification from one of the better programs that are out there.
CNA Programs: Coursework
There are a number of very basic skills and subjects that you will learn during most CNA programs, such as anatomy and physiology, body mechanics, communication, infection control, nutrition, personal care skills, and resident rights, among other topics. These topics will be covered through the practical and theoretical aspects of certified nursing assistant programs, so this is why it is important that you find a CNA course that provides exhaustive training in both aspects. There are a lot of programs available out there but not all of them provide the coursework you need to successfully become registered. Remember that you will have to pass an examination in order to become a CNA. This means that you want to consider only those nursing assistant programs that will prepare you properly for this. You can check on this by considering whether or not the questions you are likely to receive in the exam match up with what you are likely to learn on the CNA course you attend. Good CNA programs will obviously prepare you well for what is to come, and bad or average CNA courses will not provide adequate preparation.
What You Can Do As A CNA?
CNAs are permitted to work in the following settings once they have gone through one of the accredited programs available:
- Nursing centres
- Residential care centers
- Mental health facilities
- Patients’ homes
In addition the completion of a CNA program will allow you to perform the following tasks in one of the above mentioned settings (although tasks can vary from setting to setting rather significantly):
- Take vital signs
- Help patients eat, bathe, dress, and walk
- Reposition patients in their beds
- Change bedpans and bed linens
- Observe patients and report changes to supervisors
- Serve meals
- Tidy patients’ room
- Escort patients to other parts of the facility
- Help set up equipment and stock supplies
These are the paces that certified nursing assistant programs will allow you to work in as well as the tasks that you will be taught to perform. This is not for everybody, so if you are unsure about the settings you will have to work in or things you will have to do then you may want to consider another line of work.<
CNA Program Requirements
There are a lot of certified nursing assistant programs out there, but you will be glad to hear that generally speaking the admission requirements for a CNA course are far less stringent then what you would have to go through to get into one of the more advanced nursing programs. This is great especially as nursing assistant programs can serve as stepping stones to more advanced qualifications.
You will have to present your high school diploma or your GED qualification if you want to enrol in most CNA programs. This is one of the basic requirements that you will have to comply with in order to enrol in most CNA courses.
However there are also some programs that do not require that you have a high school diploma or GED. In order to get into a CNA program such as this you merely have to have passed the Test for Adult Basic Education. This means that you have the option of becoming a CNA without a high school qualification.
There is also an age requirement for certified nursing assistant programs. You have to be 18 years or older to enrol in a program.
Becoming An LPN Or RN
Once you have a CNA qualification form one of the many CNA programs available you will be able to use it as a stepping stone for becoming an LPN or RN in the future. A little known fact is that after you have completed a CNA course you may be able to do a CNA to LPN or CNA to RN qualification and thereby expand your career options in the nursing field. There are a number of advantages to doing this:
- You will be eligible for a much higher salary if you first attend one of the nursing assistant programs and then use that as a stepping stone to do a CNA to LPN or RN program.
- You will be able to advance in the medical profession until you are at a much higher level than you ever imagined possible.
- You will have higher self-esteem.
These programs can take a few years to complete, but they are worth it. Many can be done part-time while you continue working as a CNA. There are also a number of financial aid options available for nurses who want expand the basic knowledge learned in their CNA programs.
Online Nursing Assistant Programs
There are also a number of online programs that you may want to consider enrolling in. This option is far more convenient and online CNA courses also tend to be a whole lot cheaper than normal classroom based face-to-face options.
An important thing to remember is that it is not possible to do your entire training through an online CNA program. This is because it is impossible, as I am sure you will understand, to do the clinical work necessary to become a CNA through CNA programs that are offered solely online. Be careful about certified nursing assistant programs that claim to offer complete certification online. There has to be some or other structure in place somewhere along the way that allows for you to complete the necessary clinical training.
However, that being said, there are a number of credible online programs available so do not reject this option off the bat. You just need to take the time necessary to find the best online CNA course for you.
Another thing to remember is that not everyone can benefit well from online CNA programs, so make sure you are someone who can before making the decision to enrol.
Some Schools That Offer CNA Courses
There are plenty of schools out there offering great CNA programs, but some of the best of these schools offering these nursing assistant programs are:
- Baker College Online
- DeVry University
- Duke University
- John Hopkins University
- Kaplan University
- Keiser University
- Oregon Health and Science University
- South University
- The University of Washington
- The University of California
- The University of Michigan
- The University of North Carolina
- The University of Pennsylvania
- The University of Phoenix
- The University of Pittsburgh
- Yale University
When choosing a from among the many programs available you should keep a few things in mind. Firstly you should consider the location of the various CNA curses that you are interested in. The closer the curse the less you will have to pay in travel costs. You will also have to consider the cost of the CNA program and decide whether or not you will need financial aid in order to fund your studies at that particular school.
CNA Personality Requirements
There are a number of personality requirements that it is suggested that you have before you decide to enrol in CNA programs. These are:
- Great communication skills
- An ability to multitask
- An ability to work as part of a health care team
- An ability to take direction from doctors and nursing supervisors
- A strong desire to help others
These are things that simply cannot be taught in certified nursing assistant programs, so you will have to have a natural aptitude in these areas before deciding to enrol in a CNA course. If you feel that you do not have the right personality for the job then you should definitely reconsider your decision to attend one of the many nursing assistant programs on offer as you will struggle to function as a CNA in a hospital or other health care setting if you do not meet the personality requirements right from the beginning.
Right, so now you have all of the information you need in order to make your decision regarding whether or not certified nursing assistant programs are for you. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, but if you want a stable job in a stable industry, there are worse things that you could do then engaging in a CNA program and becoming certified as a nursing assistant as there are many opportunities that this will open for you.