Nursing Assistant Certification – Overview
Those who seek to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) need to acquire their Nursing Assistant Certification. With this certification, you can handle patients directly under the supervision of an RN (Registered Nurse) or an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse).
These professional nurses are trained in helping patients with their basic daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
As opposed to other similar professions in the nursing field, a CNA is not required to have a college degree. However, they still need to undergo training to receive a post-secondary, non-degree diploma or certificate.
Every state issues CNA credentials under different regulations and rules. Hence, prospective nursing assistants should enroll in a state-accredited training program before undertaking a state certification exam.
What are the Educational Qualifications Required to Become a CNA?
Prospective CNAs need to obtain a high school diploma or GED. They also need to get nursing assistant training. Numerous trade schools, vocational community colleges, and medical facilities in the US provide nursing assistant training.
However, before applying to any nursing assistant program, you should check that the program is supported and approved by the state nursing board and the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC).
Once you complete Nursing Assistant Certification training, you will then have to appear for the CNA certification exam. This exam has two parts – the practical part and the written part.
The written exam is conducted in a group setting and usually has several multiple-choice questions. You have 90 minutes to attempt the exam.
The second part, which is the clinical skills exam, is conducted individually with a single test observer.
Applicants are tested on at least four different random clinical skills to measure their competency. This part of the exam needs to be attempted in 30 minutes.
Are there any Additional Certifications or Credentials Required to become a CNA?
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) monitors and controls nursing education programs.
The US Department of Education offers oversight of the accreditation process. The Department of Education also maintains an extensive database of accredited nursing schools.
Where Can You Work as a CNA?
As a CNA, you can expect to work in a wide variety of environments. However, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that a remarkable portion of nursing assistants also work in nursing care facilities, hospitals and even assisted living facilities for geriatric patients.
Some other opportunities for employment for CNAs include working at a private doctor’s office, community clinics, and urgent care centers.
In addition, CNAs also work as home health aides and at hospices. They are tasked with taking care of patients in the patient’s home.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a CNA?
After nursing assistant certification, you work under the direct supervision of licensed nursing professionals. These nurses care for patients who are disabled, infirm, ill or injured and are unable to care for themselves.
In different work settings, CNAs are the first point of contact for patients. A CNA can perform various basic clinical tasks, especially those that are directly related to the patient’s comfort.
As a CNA, you can expect to:
- Take the patient’s temperature, blood pressure, and other vital sign readings
- Turn or reposition bedridden patients
- Answer patient calls
- Feed patients apart from recording and measuring their solid and liquid food intake.
- Cleaning rooms
- Changing bed linens
- Dressing wounds
- Helping the doctor with medical procedures
- Bathing patients
- Stocking supplies
- Gathering supplies and equipment for an RN or MD
- Taking care of the appearance and hygiene of the patient
- Preparing rooms for admitting patients
How Much Can I Expect to Earn as a CNA?
With the increasing number of baby boomers now entering their golden years, there is a growing demand for preventive medical care.
According to BLS reports, the next decade will see a remarkable 9% increase in demand for certified nursing assistants. In 2018 alone, the CNA field witnessed openings for 1 million vacancies in the US.
As per BLS statistics, the average annual salary for certified nursing assistants in the US was amounted to around US$ 35,740 in 2022. The exact salary for CNAs varies according to state and the specific healthcare settings they work in.
After nursing assistant certification, you should be ready to help doctors and registered nurses with administering several medical treatments.
However, the majority of your working hours will be spent caring for infirm and bedridden patients. The career scope and salary growth as a CNA in the US are incredibly prospective.