How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

By | September 2, 2023
How to become a certified nursing assistant.
Certified Nursing Assistants are increasingly needed to support registered nurses. Image source:

Deciding to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, CNA, is definitely a bright idea.

The demand for Certified Nursing Assistants, who are also known as nurse aides, medical aides, home health aides, and patient care technicians, is on the increase and will continue that way for some more years to come.

More CNAs are needed to assist and support registered nurses so that they can give greater attention to the more complex aspects of their job, and with the support of the nurse assistant provide better care to patients.

There are two parts to complete in becoming a certified nurse assistant. The first part is to enroll into an accredited program where you will take the relevant classes that will adequately prepare you for the career.

Requirements for enrolling into a program

The requirements needed to enter into a CNA program generally include a high school diploma or its equivalent, immunization record, age, and passing a criminal background check. Some programs might in addition require you take and pass an entrance examination.

There might also be other requirements, depending on the school or training center. You will therefore have to find out all the requirements from the admissions office of the schools you are thinking of enrolling in.

How to find the right program

You can find several programs out there offering nursing assistant, such as vocational schools, community colleges, and online classes that you can register with.

You can also find CNA programs with the American Red Cross and similar organizations; long-term healthcare facilities and certain hospitals; and assisted living communities.

Although, you may not be required to pay tuition fees, you will however have to sign an agreement to work with the organization for a period of time after certification before you can be free to leave if you then so desired.

All of these programs offer basically the same curriculum, and so it doesn’t really matter which one you decide to enroll with, you will get the same training.

Nevertheless, you should ensure to do some checks before making up your mind to register with any. One of such checks is whether they are accredited to offer the program by the State’s Board of Nursing or by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), or other national governing organization.

This is very important as you may not be allowed to take the certification exam if you went through an unaccredited program. You may also not be able to advance your education in the nursing profession.

Another check you can carry out on a program is whether past graduates of the program have been doing well in the certification exams.

If they haven’t been doing well, it might mean they have a problem with teaching and you wouldn’t want to go there naturally, compared to other schools whose graduates are usually passing certification.

You can also check on the convenience to study that the program offers you, as well as the tuition fees.

Putting all the above checks together would enable you to make the right decision of the program to go for.

What does the program entail?

Nursing assistant programs are usually divided into two sections. The first part is the theoretical aspect where teachings take place in the classroom.

Students are exposed to the basics of healthcare service and how to provide efficient and satisfactory care to patients.

You will be taught medical terminology, anatomy, nursing and medical ethics, infection control, and other medical subjects.

Other classes you will take include understanding the basics of patient care, and how to effectively carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The second part of the training is the practical or laboratory aspect. Here, students are assigned to clinics, doctor’s offices, and healthcare centers, under the supervision of a registered nurse, to learn and perform various actual duties of a certified nursing assistant, utilizing the theoretical knowledge they have gained in the classroom.

A group of ten students are supervised by a registered nurse who assesses their performance and send back reports to their school or institution.

How long does it take to graduate?

The nursing assistant training program does not take long to complete unlike many other programs in the medical profession that take several years for students to graduate. Depending on the type of program you enrolled in, the training can be completed in as short as a few weeks or latest in six months.

The certification process

At the completion of the program, the next phase to complete is to become certified. Each State has an approved testing organization that assesses and certifies applicants. You will therefore have to find out who conducts certification exams in your state and what the tests look like.

In most states, the exams are in two parts: a multiple-choice written test taken by applicants in groups, and a skills evaluation test conducted on applicants individually in a clinic or hospital environment.

Applicants will be given some skills to execute and the required equipment and supplies, and will be assessed by a registered nurse.

Why you need to be certified

You need to be certified as nurse assistant to be able to practice and advance your career. All States require certification, which is renewable periodically. The period for renewable is dependent on individual states, it is two years in some states, and five in some others.

Without being certified, it will be difficult to find employment as nurse assistant or aide in the healthcare industry, including at healthcare centers, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, clinics, and private homes.

Being a CNA, you have the opportunity to advance your career anywhere in the world as the certification is globally recognized. You also stand a better chance for quicker career growth and opportunity for promotions.

Being equivalent to a college recognized degree, a certified nurse assistant would enjoy similar benefits as college degree graduate, including earning high salaries (monthly and annually).

The certification also provides you the opportunity to mentor and teach junior nurses.

Featured Video:

Certified Nursing Assistant Career Video