Being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can be a rewarding and surprisingly, has become one of the most sought after careers nowadays, possibly because it can provide numerous benefits and can give you a future employment in just a matter of weeks.
What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
Certified nursing assistant (CNA) or sometimes referred to as nurse’s aide, patient care technicians, orderlies, and home health aides, is a trained professional who assists licensed practical nurses or registered nurses in their daily tasks.
Other terms that can be interchanged with CNAs are:
- Orderly – hospital attendant tasked to do non-medical care and maintenance of hospitals but does not require certification or degree
- Psychiatric aide – similar to certified nursing assistant except they only work in mental health facilities
- Medical assistant – no need to get a degree or certificate but they assist doctors and nurses in doing their daily tasks
What do they do?
- Administer medications, drugs or treatments like catheterizations, suppositories, and the like as advised or directed by a nurse or physician
- Clean and sanitize rooms, bathrooms, patient areas and examination rooms
- Document and make a report of patient behavior, physical problems, and complaints
- Apply clean dressings, slings, support bandages and the like as advised or directed by a nurse or physician
- Assist in daily living activities of patients like eating, bathing, dressing and the like
- Provide assistance to nurses in room preparation, admission and gathering or getting medical supplies
- Preserve privacy of patients and comply with health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA)
- Day shift CNAs can include preparation of patients throughout the day like bathing, dressing, eating, and morning walk if necessary. May be also called to change bed sheets, clean the patient’s room, and sanitize the bathroom.
- Night shift CNAs will get updates from the day shift CNAs, take vital signs, ensure patients are prepared for the night, answer call lights, clean and empty catheters, and help prepare patients going to surgery.
Where do they work?
- Nursing homes
- Adult day care centers
- Personal homes
- Assisted living facilities
- Community care facilities
- Home for the elderly
- Rehabilitation centers
- Mental health facilities
How much do they make?
The salary and benefits of CNAs depend and vary per each state but in general, their annual median pay grade can be between $18,300 to $35,330 where the median lies at $24,400.
CNAs are paid per hour that is why they have a flexible working hours as they can also take on additional shifts to fill in for other orderlies.
As of 2014, here is a list of the top five states that provide the highest annual pay:
- Alaska – $37,180
- Nevada – $33,000
- New York – $32,470
- Connecticut – $31,940
- DC – $30,940
How to become a CNA?
It is necessary to have a high school diploma or GED before you can become a certified nursing assistant.
- Look and decide on the school you wish to study or get your training from. Most community colleges, trade school and some medical facilities offer CNA training, just be sure to check if they are accredited by your state’s board of nursing.
- Learn basic nursing skills, anatomy & physiology, nutrition, infection control and get hands-on experience from clinical activities.
- Study, review and pass the state exam, wherein you will be tested on basic nursing skills, knowledge and know-how.
- Get additional certification which varies per state to help you further your education in the future.
- Study, review and pass the state competency exam to get a CNA licensure. Make sure to get a two-days worth of continuing education to keep your CNA license active.
What else can you expect from being a CNA?
Your career doesn’t stop from being a certified nursing assistant because actually, it can be your stepping stone to a flourishing nursing career. Most nursing schools accept CNAs once they have decided to get a degree as an RN or if you wish to step up and become an LPN.
If you wish to remain a CNA, there is a high possibility that you will maintain your employment because the demand for this kind of job is projected to keep increasing until the year 2018. CNAs are considered to play a vital role in healthcare facilities because of their non-medical tasks.
What kind of nursing organizations are associated with CNAs?
- National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) – elevated the professional performance and standing of caregivers by recognition, advocacy, empowerment and education while maintaining an alliance with health care providers.
- National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) – nonprofit organization that advocates for most healthcare professionals to help them maintain and achieve quality care and commitment.
- National Network of Career Nursing Assistants – promotes recognition, research, education, peer support and advocacy for the development of nursing assistants in nursing homes and long-term care facilities