What is a CNA?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA), with the supervision of a licensed nurse, assists patients with daily health care needs. Holistic caregivers, such as CNAs, help in maintenance and improvement of the patient's health regardless of age, gender, or race.

Is CNA Right for Me?

What are the CNA's skills and duties?

The skills and duties of certified nursing assistants consist of the following:

  • Providing patient care
  • Provider of moral and emotional support
  • Good organizational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to communicate

CNA job description

Certified nursing assistants have the following duties:

  • Providing or helping patients in activities of daily living
  • Monitor patient's vital signs, weight, and intake and output
  • Basic skills of turning, transferring, and positioning clients
  • Simple assessment and interventions
  • Proper documentation of activities
  • Observation of institutions, policies, and guidelines
  • Professional updates with continuing education

What challenges will I face working as a CNA?

Challenges are inevitable in any line of work. As a nursing assistant you must be prepared to deal with the following situations:

  • Minimal aid and support from your colleagues
  • Stress brought by the facility itself
  • Everyday situations of your patients and coworkers
  • Emotional challenge of dealing with mortality and morbidity
  • Working long shifts (a.m. and p.m.)

How do I handle night shift challenges as a CNA?

Disturbed sleep pattern is one of the most common disadvantages of working the graveyard shift and it can compromise your health. Learning how to manage your time, a well-balanced diet, and rest are crucial to combat work related stress.

The night shift employs a smaller crew of nurses. The advantage of this is you have an opportunity to build a relationship with coworkers. Managing time during the night shift is easier than during the day shift. CNAs working the day shift have the patient's family, physical therapy, and other disciplines to work around, which makes prioritizing care tricky.

Chronic fatigue and social anxiety can be avoided if a sleeping schedule is created to allow personal time with friends and family outside the work environment.

Getting Training to Become a CNA

Where can I find local CNA classes?

Finding local CNA classes is possible by contacting:

  • Local state board of nursing
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)

Clinical and classroom settings may include nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and community colleges as well as in the American Red Cross. Some facilities in different states offer free CNA classes. You can find free training through health care facilities, funded scholarship programs, and the Red Cross.

Is it possible to get online CNA training?

Online CNA classes are beneficial for an array of lifestyles. The online classroom is convenient and time saving to people with a family and those with tight schedules.

Basically, the modules and topics are covered similarly as traditional classes. The difference is the student may have the sole responsibility of coordinating the hands-on clinical sites for completion of training.

CNA versus Other Types of Similar Specialties

CNAs are employed in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and private clinics to accomplish general nursing tasks. Other specialties are similar to the CNA, but vary in tasks.

  • Certified medical assistants (CMA) typically work in a primary care physician's office. Activities such as taking vital signs, performing phlebotomy, and clerical work are the day-to-day tasks of a CMA.
  • Certified Medication Technician (CMT) administers nonparenteral medications in long-term and skilled care facilities.
  • Licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse takes a required board examination. These nurses provide patient care activities, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, vital signs, medication administration, patient assessments, and if trained, phlebotomy, and IVs.
  • Registered nurses (RNs) possess a diploma, bachelor's, or master's degree and have passed a state board exam. Registered nurses are responsible for the assessment, diagnosis, planning of care, intervention provision, and evaluation of outcomes related to patient condition.

CNA Career Advancement

What are career opportunities for CNA?

Certified nurse assistants are found in different work settings. Settings include:

Hospitals, acute care, long-term care, health centers, private clinics, public schools and universities, military hospitals, correctional, psychiatric facilities, and government health agencies.

Many CNAs tend to lead toward a higher education by obtaining a degree in nursing, pharmacy, or medical technology.

What are the opportunities for advancement in the CNA field?

Opportunities for advancement in the CNA field are extensive. Continuing education to become a licensed nurse is a bright future for an aspiring CNA. Other experienced CNAs emerge into managerial level as nursing home administrators or geriatric care managers.

What are the best nursing careers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the best nursing careers with excellent working conditions and good pay include the following: certified dialysis nurse, certified legal nurse consultant, certified nurse midwife, nurse case manager, nurse anesthetist, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, nursing informatics analyst, nurse researcher, and pediatric endocrinology nurse.

How to move up from a CNA to RN

  • A registered nurse (RN) requires a minimum completion of an associate degree — typically two to three years.
  • Another alternative is to obtain a Bachelor's or Master's of Science in Nursing.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN to obtaining licensure.

How to be the best CNA while on the road to becoming an RN

Ask one or two of your RN co-workers if they will act as your mentor and guide you through the process of becoming an RN. Learning from an RN will assist you with grasping the nursing process. The following are six tips you can do as a CNA on the road to RN:

  • Listen to report with your assigned nurse
  • Make rounds and introduce yourself
  • Answer call lights quickly
  • Talk to patients — ask about their symptoms and treatments
  • Keep organized

How to become a CNA Instructor

CNA instructors are responsible for teaching certified nursing assistants during their training. They are required to possess the following:

  • An associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in nursing
  • Licensed as a registered nurse
  • At least two years of experience as a registered nurse with one year of experience in a long-term care institution
  • Skills in communication, critical thinking, directing, and managing
  • Obtainment of cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training