How to become a Certified Nurse Aide

How to become a certified nurse aide
To work as a nurse aide, most states require certification. Image source:

To become a certified nurse aide, CNA, can serve as a spring board to a better paid patient care career.

Nurse aides go by various names, depending on the facility they find themselves in or the location their services are needed; they may be called certified nursing assistant, certified nursing aide, orderlies, patient care technicians, or home health aides.

They are the first port of call to patients in health facilities in a number of ways; assisting with a variety of tasks from bathing to making sure that medications are taken, monitoring dietary requirements usually in a non-invasive manner for patients who may not be able to complete such tasks on their own, including providing support to uncomfortable and disturbed patients.

Although, they come under the direct supervision of nurses, they provide the necessary care and attention to patients, ensuring that patients maintain their dignity, and respect while being afforded the necessary care.

If you love to care for people who are too weak to help themselves, then becoming a nurse aide might just be right for you, so, how do you start the career?

How to Become a Certified Nurse Aide – Steps to Take

If you are interested in becoming a CNA, the follow steps will guide you through:

Educational Programs and Requirements:

You can get training to become a certified nurse aide by enrolling in an institution approved by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, which runs a nurse assistant program.

There are several institutions that run such programs, which you can check out. They include, the American Red Cross, community colleges, local healthcare providers, vocational and technical schools, as well as training programs you can find and do online.

A high school certificate is the requirement one needs to have to be admitted to train as a nursing aide with science courses like biology and chemistry needed.

You may also be required to submit a character certificate (criminal records check), and pass drugs usage tests.
How long is the training?

The nursing assistant training takes 6-16 weeks to complete, which may vary according to various states and the schools, but basically will expose you to areas bothering on rudimentary nursing skills, physiology and anatomy, infection control, and nutrition.

You will also be expected to take a number of tests which will require you to demonstrate nursing aide skills to a live patient, or one acting as such.

Don’t forget that hands on experience can be gotten from clinical activities as some health care facilities may require their students to put in a certain amount of time working for the facility, even after being certified.

There are no degree program tailored to enable you become certified as a nursing aide, but if you require a degree, you can consider running a full degree in nursing.

How to Get Nurse Aide Certification

After the nursing assistant training program, you will have to work for four months before taking state conducted certification tests in order to be certified as a nurse aide.

Even though some medical facilities where you might find a job may not require you to be certified, it is nevertheless important to take and pass the certification exam, especially if you want to advance in your career, or become entitled to more pay.

CNA Duties and Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a certified nurse aide may not be routine at all times, and are largely dependent on the health care facility you work in, the shift period and the available tasks to be completed.

The job of the CNA includes, rendering every form of assistance to the patient, and reporting the conditions of patients under them to the necessary experts.

It also includes, performing administrative duties, completing basic clinical procedures, movement of patients, and rendering help to nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Nursing aides who have been certified may also be assigned sometimes to oversee specific areas in the facility.

Skills Certified Nurse Aides Should Have

Nursing aides are required to master certain skills at an early stage in their training, as such skills may become routine in their daily work. They include:

  • Cleansing and sterilizing: Since you will be meeting patients, and will be required to administer medications, it is necessary to learn how to at least wash your hands, and those of your patient.
  • Protection of privacy: You should be acquainted with the privacy policies of your environment, and develop habits that will enable you protect the privacy of your patients.
  • Communication skills: This is very essential, as the work requires constant and effective communication with your patient, being able to meet all the requirements of your patients, including their preferences, and conveying important information about their needs to other medical professionals.
  • Compassion and Respect: this is a quality that is able to win the trust of the patient, and encourage cooperation. Patients may be passing through a lot of pains, or have disabilities that make them unable to effectively take care of themselves. Being able to offer assistance and empathy will take you a long way in your career as a nurse aide, and make your patients feel safe and well taken care of.

Career opportunities for CNA

Various career opportunities exist for nurse aides. It is important not to forget that certified nurse aides can only practice under strict supervision of licensed nurses, as it is illegal to offer independent services.

Nursing aides are required in almost all health care facilities. The Bureau for Labor statistics predicts a 21 percent increase growth between 2012 and 2022.

Certified Nurse Aide’s Salary

Median salary for nursing aides ranges between $25,100 depending on the location you take your career to. Larger cities tend to pay larger amounts than smaller cities.