According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 1,371,050 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) across the United States. The job of a CNA is rewarding because you get to spend time connecting with the people you're caring for.
If you're searching for a guide that will detail how to become a CNA, you've come to the right place. In our comprehensive guide, not only are you going to find information about how to become a CNA you're also going to find information about nurse assistant training programs, CNA certification, and different places you can work.
How to Become a CNA
To become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), you need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent of one. Depending on the area you live in, some have the opportunity to complete a state-approved certification course through a dual degree program offered in high school by a community college.
Enrolling in a certified program will teach you everything you need to know to pass a state-required CNA exam before entering the field. However, before applying to any program, we recommend ensuring that the program is approved or accredited through your state’s board of nursing.
If not, all your efforts to learn your skills will be for nothing, and you'll be wasting your time and money attending classes in that program.
After you've been accepted into your CNA program, you'll spend a significant amount of time being trained to provide different forms of care for the patients you will look after. For example, some of the things you'll be trained to do include:
- Baths and other forms of grooming
- Putting a patient on/off a bedpan
- Providing mobility rehabilitation care
- Repositioning patients in bed
- Helping clean rooms and change beds
When you're learning these different techniques, they will follow the same sequence. For example, if you're being trained to put a resident on a bedpan, the first step is to knock on the door and announce your presence.
No matter what setting you're in, it's essential to provide patients with the utmost privacy. After you've knocked and they've allowed you access to the room, the next step would be putting on your gloves and grabbing the bedpan.
You'll help the patient hold onto one side of the bed rail while keeping them covered and put the bedpan under them. After the bedpan is in place, you'll give them privacy to use the restroom and instruct them to press their call button when they're done.
After you've been called back to the room, you'll knock again before entering. Still providing them with privacy, you'll remove the bedpan and help them readjust their underwear before emptying the bedpan into the toilet.
Always wash your hands after providing any form of care and place the call button within reach of your patient before exiting the room.
After you complete a state-approved program, the next step is to take your certification test. Half of the test is multiple-choice, and the other half is performing some of the skills you've learned to assist patients.
If you fail one part of the test, you will need to retake it before you're certified to continue working. Before taking your test, check the requirements in your area and ensure you've paid the fees to take the test.
If all goes well with your certification exam, you can begin applying to places to work as a CNA.
Places Where CNA's Can Work
The places where CNAs can work are endless. It's really about where there is a need in your area and the workload you're ready to carry.
If you wish to work within a hospital setting, understanding you might have more patients than you would in a home health facility or nursing home is important.
Are you someone that enjoys providing care for one person at a time?
If so, you might want to look into working in a home health setting. Typically, if you work within a home health setting, you'll work with an agency that pairs you with people that are in need of services within their home.
The people you work with within their homes will need different things from their caregivers. Some people will need someone to help with their grooming and hygiene,
while others need someone to take them to their health appointments and help with things like grocery shopping.
As mentioned, you can also work within nursing homes. Keep in mind most senior living communities have a mixture of residents.
There are some that need higher levels of care than others that are still independent. You might also find you have to provide more care to older residents that have issues with Alzheimer's Disease and various ailments.
The options you have working as a CNA are limitless. Finding a work environment that you’ll be successful in and thrive in is key.
No matter where you choose to work, the care will remain the same. You'll be doing the same things, but providing care with differing numbers of patients with different needs.
Becoming a CNA: Your Need-To-Know Guide
We answered the question of how to become a CNA. The first thing you need to do is ensure you've got the equivalent of a high school diploma and then apply to a CNA program. From there, you'll receive training that allows you to move forward with taking your certification test.