Job duties of a CNA
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) can work in a number of different settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and private households. Job duties can vary based on the where the CNA is working. The most common duties include bathing patients and assisting with their daily hygiene routines. This could consist of brushing teeth, brushing hair, keeping nails well groomed and even shaving. Other common tasks include assisting patients to and from the bathroom and supporting unsteady individuals as they walk. Feeding patients and helping them get dressed and undressed is also common. CNA’s frequently perform lifts and transfers, meaning they use specialized equipment, such as a hoyer lift, and sometimes their own strength to help patients get out of beds and wheelchairs. In almost all work settings, CNA’s take regular vital signs, chart the information and communicate their observations to a nurse or doctor .
In some work environments, such as hospital and nursing homes, CNA’s work side-by-side with nurses, assisting them with many different tasks including catheter and wound care. In private home care, CNA’s frequently work independently after being tested for competency by a nurse.
Since a CNA works directly under nurses, they can take on new tasks as their supervisor sees fit, allowing them to expand their education and experience. For example, directly out of school most CNA’s are not allowed to insert and remove catheters in many states, however once the CNA’s supervising nurse has signed off on their abilities they will be able to perform this task.
CNA’s typically work for a hourly wage that increases with experience. Although each work setting and type of shift usually pays differently, CNA’s typically make between $25,000 and $35,000 annually.
Health care is one of the fastest growing and most in-demand job industries in the nation. With modern medicine helping people live longer than ever before, the need for CNA’s is constantly on the rise. Projected outlooks for CNA positions predict at least a 20% increase in jobs, a much higher percentage than most careers have.
Another benefit of working as a CNA is job security. The demand for well trained CNA’s is high, often allowing licensed individuals the opportunity to choose what work setting would be most rewarding for them. Hospitals are requiring more and more CNA’s to improve patient turnaround time, while nursing home beds are consistently full. There is also a high demand for home-care CNA’s, who offer assistance to individuals both through companies and private individual employers.
Communication skills – CNA’s should have excellent oral and written communication abilities so they can effectively communicate with patients and their family members, as well as nurses and doctors. CNA’s need to be able to ensure patients understand what duties the CNA is going to perform, listen to their needs and pass information on to the patient’s nurses without any causing any confusion.
Organizational skills- CNA’s need to be well organized and must have the ability to manage their time efficiently. CNA’s often work within a specified time limit and need to be able to complete all their required tasks without going over the allotted amount of time they are given. Since Being a CNA involves completing paperwork and writing in patient charts, it is essential that individuals can keep track of patient records and always have the information they need on hand. A CNA needs to know what to have with them when they show up for work to ensure they can get their job done right. Showing up for work without the tools and information needed to get the job done could be harmful to the patient, so it essential that a CNA has what they need, when they need it.
Observation skills – Typically, a CNA sees a patient more often than their nurses or doctors and therefore the CNA must be willing and able to keep a close eye on their patients physical and mental health. If a CNA notices even a slight change in a patient’s physical health or mental well being, it is important that they report those changes to a nurse or doctor to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible care. In home care settings, the CNA could easily be the only person that a patient sees in a 24 hour period, making it essential for the CNA to be aware of the patient’s surroundings and behavior to ensure their safety.
Ability to follow protocol – Perhaps one of the most important skills needed to be a CNA is the ability to follow rules and regulations. Each patient has a plan of care that has been created specifically for them based upon their individual needs and following this care plan exactly is an essential part of the patient’s well being and overall health. A CNA who chooses not follow a care plan or breaks protocol could put a patient at risk and could receive disciplinary actions for their decision, such as losing their license.
Compassion and patience - CNA’s need the ability to help patients feel at ease and cared for. The best CNA’S are typically individuals who are empathetic and have a true desire to help those around them. When a patient feels comfortable with the CNA and confident in their abilities, it makes getting the job done easier for everyone involved. Since CNA’s often see patients when they are feeling vulnerable, having these important interpersonal skills allows CNA’s to handle any situation with grace and professionalism.
In order to take a CNA course, most states require individuals to have a high school diploma or GED. In order to take a state licensing test, applicants needs to complete a state-approved CNA program and many states also require applicants to complete a specific amount of clinical hours, hours spent working as a nursing assistant under an educator’s supervision, as part of their course.
After completing the required class, applicants may take a state test to earn the certification. Tests are generally made up of two portions: a written exam and practical skills test. The practical skills test gives the applicant the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have learned and show they can perform them properly.
Frequently asked questions about becoming a CNA:
Can I take CNA classes online?
Yes, there are a number of online CNA programs that allow individuals to gain the knowledge and skills needed to become certified in their state.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking an online class?
One of the biggest advantages of taking an online CNA course is the convenience. Students have the freedom to complete assignments when their schedule allows and they can learn in the comfort of their own home. There are a few disadvantages to online learning, for example, hands-on learners may struggle with virtual education and students need to have the self discipline to get their work done independently.
What is the cost of online classes?
The cost for online classes can vary greatly. Many institutions offer online courses at a reasonable price, while other’s fees are excessively high. Be sure to look into as many differently classes as possible to ensure you are being charged a fair rate for your education. Check to see if the programs you are most interest in offer scholarships or can be funded through grants to reduce the cost.
Where can I take online classes?
Many colleges and technical schools offer CNA classes online. For example, the University of Phoenix, Stratford Career Institute and Walden University all offer online CNA programs. The red cross has an online course available in many states and independent CNA training companies are offering virtual classes all around the nation.
What is the difference between accredited or non accredited?
An accredited CNA programs guarantees that students who pass the course will have met all the requirements needed for state testing. However, it is important to check the testing requirements in your state before choosing a school as some states do not require classes to be taken through an accredited program (and non accredited could potentially be less costly).
Are there free online classes available?
No, while there are websites that claim to offer CNA classes for free they are not actual training programs and will not prepare students for the certification test. Most of these sites simply offer practice exams similar to the ones that potential CNA’s will take.
Can I get financial aid for online CNA classes?
Many online classes can be partially or fully paid for with the help of financial aid. There are numerous grants, scholarships and loan options available for those looking to begin a CNA program.
What should I consider when selecting a CNA school?
When choosing the right school for you, it is important to consider how well the program will prepare you for your new career. A good CNA program should ensure it’s students meet all the requirements needed to take the state certification test and supply them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.