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Fastest Way To Becoming a CNA

By: CareerFactsheet.com- Last Updated Jun. 21 ,2017

In the world of healthcare there are many options students may consider. Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant is one which many people do as a way not only to work in a field they love, but also to test the waters before carrying on to obtain a higher degree, such as going into nursing. The world of a CNA is filled with patient care and deals primarily with meeting the needs of their patients more than anything else. Here we'll review the basic career overview for a CNA as well as educational requirements and the career opportunities available.

Career Overview

Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, provide a hands on care component to any quality healthcare team. These trained assistants help with patient intake procedures as well on ongoing patient care. CNAs work in a variety of healthcare environments and typically find work through hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care or rehabilitation facilities. These environments are best able to utilize the kind of hands on patient care and attentions CNAs offer.

Education Requirements

CNA training

Training to become a CNA begins with coursework through a Certified Nursing Assistant program. These programs are available through local community and vocational colleges as well as niche healthcare universities both online and off. The programs have two separate components.

First is basic coursework where students learn nursing and patient care fundamentals. This includes an overview of the kind of information needed from patients, wound and body care and patient privacy laws. The second portion of the program focuses on clinical training, where CNA students are able to put their course education into practice by working in a hospital setting alongside nurses and other CNAs who can show students real world solutions for problems and challenges as they arise.

The total time spent in a CNA program varies from 6 to 15 weeks through most programs. These programs are available in a variety of lengths in order to accommodate students who may already be working or have other scheduling conflicts. Requirements to enroll in a program include that students be 18 years old and have either a High School Diploma or GED Certificate.

Once both the coursework and clinical hours have been completed, students must then take and pass a Certified Nursing Assistant test in order to obtain their actual certification. These tests are taken care of within each state. The test also contains two parts, a Skills Test along with a Written Exam. Both parts of the test must be completed and a passing grade received in order to gain full certification to work as a CNA.

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant can be a rewarding career and can be completed within 3 steps:

  • Enroll in a good accredited Certified Nursing Assistant Program.
  • Complete both the Coursework and Clinical Education sections.
  • Take and pass the state administered CNA Exam.

Once these basic steps have been completed, students become fully certified and can work as a CNA in any healthcare organization. As a CNA, students may begin to look for work at hospitals, nursing homes, long-term are or rehabilitation facilities or any other healthcare venues where patient care is a primary focus. Depending on the job duties as well as location, these positions can be advertised under a number of different names. Certified Nursing Assistants can work under the titles of Patient Care Assistant (PCA), State Tested Nurse Aid (STNA) and Nursing Assistant (NA) to name a few. These positions may focus on specific areas of care, but all require a CNA education and certification background.

CNA Specializations

Certified Nursing Assistants may spend their first year or so out of school simply getting a handle on the healthcare field and working to understand which aspects they like. Ultimately, they may find that their skills are best used in a specific area of healthcare.

Some CNAs find working with the elderly especially rewarding while others prefer to work with patients in a rehabilitation facility or with newborns and infants. Should a CNA find a niche area of healthcare where they excel, he or she may choose to begin specializing in that field.

CNAs can choose to specialize in a field already covered through most hospital or healthcare fields or they may to take their career to a different level and specialize in increasingly niche areas such as becoming a Psychiatric Aide or Radiologist Assistant. Working in one of these fields can not only help a CNA to hone his or her skills but can also bulk up their negotiating power as well as making them more employable as they have a more diverse skill set to offer to potential employers. While these these kinds of positions can be helped by obtaining additional education through elective courses, most often these positions provide extensive on the job training. This training compliments the foundations obtained not only through the Certified Nursing Assistant education but also the experience CNAs bring to the position for their time working right out of school.

Although becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant is a fairly easy process, it does demand a lot from students and professionals. During the CNA program, students must be willing to study hard and apply their skills in a clinical environment, learning to be part of a larger healthcare team and put their patients needs first. As a certified professionals, CNAs must continue to put those patient needs first and will call on their skills of patience, compassion and caring when dealing with patients as well as their clinical and communication skills when dealing with the rest of the healthcare team.

CNAs juggle many different roles and responsibilities so being able to prioritize is a must as is their ability to work gracefully under pressure. However, with all of these roles and responsibilities, CNAs across the country know that the job is ultimately rewarding. They are truly the first line of healthcare, offering truly hand on patient care. This makes their role important not only from a physical perspective, but for a patient's mental health as well.

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