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How to Become a CNA

If you’re considering a career in the medical field, you’ve probably thought about becoming a CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant.  Alongside nurses and doctors, CNAs have a very direct part in caring for patients, particularly those in a long term care facility or who need long term care in their home. Certified Nursing Assistants may also be sometimes referred to as aides, attendants, or orderlies. On a day to day basis, a CNA will be responsible for many of a patient’s physical needs: getting dressed, being fed and bathed, or being assisted in small and large tasks. A Certified Nursing Assistant will also take vital signs, report to staff in terms of patient well being, and help patients go from one area of a hospital, home or other care facility if they require assistance. There are several common locations that CNAs work: homes, hospitals, day cares, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. The work is usually full time, with a variety of shifts depending upon patients’ needs. After becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, you will report to either an LPN or an RN. These individuals have much experience and advice to share with those just entering the medical field.

 How Long Does It Take To Become A CNA?

You must first be sure to have your High school diploma (or GED) in order to become a CNA. The great news is that high schools and technical schools throughout the US offer CNA training, so you can complete the coursework simultaneously. For special assignments such as nursing homes, CNAs must complete at least 75 hours of training, resulting in certification. Each State will have its own regulations for certification. Courses can take from 6 to 12 weeks.

Certified Nursing Assistant Salary

Though the CNA salary is not as high as some others in the medical field, there is never a shortage of work, which means that a CNA position can be an excellent stepping stone into a long term medical career. People are now living longer, due to advancements in the health field, and that means that the elderly will need extended care.

On average, a Certified Nursing Assistant can expect to earn $20,000 to $30,000 early on in his or her career. CNAs typically work by the hour, with the average horly wage coming in at approximately $11.00. Jobs in cities such as Baltimore or New York will pay higher salaries. The CNA Salary tends to be the highest in government or institutional organizations. Hospitals positions, particularly in intensive care units, will also pay more. As with every field, the more experience you have, the higher your pay will be.

Certified Nursing Assistant Training

So, if you have been seriously considering becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, you can begin to search for training programs. In addition to the ones already mentioned, you can find a training program through the Red Cross, online, through community college or medical institutions. At the end of the training you must pass the exam to obtain final certification. The two part exam consists of a written portion and a practical skills portion.  The passing score is 75%.

The training course for CNA certification covers a range of topics, from on the job skills to scientific areas such as health and nutrition, anatomy and physiology, and basic medical hygiene to control illness and infection. Some organizations are now offering free training for becoming a CNA. It is worth noting that certification as a CAN will make it that much easier to become certified as an RN, should you wish to advance your career further. Certified Nursing Assistant jobs have been predicted to continue growing by at least 19% in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One of the most important, though intangible, aspects of becoming a CNA is the emotional bond that can be formed between aides and patients. You may also help relieve the pressure for your colleagues by your invaluable assistance.

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