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CNAs - What They Do and Salary Expectations

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

When people choose to go into the medical field, they often must also be willing to be flexible and patient. This is especially true for those who choose to be come part of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) field. Becoming a CNA requires that students have a dedication to hands on patient care as well as being flexible, able to communicate effectively and be comfortable working as part of a team.

Job Description

CNAs are responsible for almost every aspect of patient care, including helping patients get up and move around their room, assisting with personal hygiene tasks and offering both comfort and support to patients who may need extra attention. This role of caregiver is what makes CNAs such a integral part of any healthcare team.

Although CNAs can be employed in almost any medical environment where patient care is the primary focus, they primarily find employment in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These long term healthcare environments are ideal for Certified Nursing Assistants of every type. Within the field of Certified Nursing Assistants there are some sub-categories which are used in certain environments or based on areas of expertise or education. The most commonly used alternative names for CNAs are Patient Care Assistant (PCA), State Tested Nurse Aid (STNA) and Nursing Assistant (NA). Each of these designations can refer to someone who has completed the full CNA training and who has either taken specialist classes in order to focus on a certain area or who simply work within an organization which prefers to use one of the alternate classifications.

Education Paths

CNA Duties

The education a CNA needs is comprised of two separate portions. First comes the basic coursework, which is done through a Certified Nursing Assistant program. These programs are usually offered through community or vocational colleges, healthcare focused universities and online universities designed for students who wish to work on their degree with increased flexibility from home. The course work involved covers basic nursing fundamentals related to patient care. This includes taking vital signs, disinfection of wounds, health and hygiene for patients as well as patient rights and privacy laws.

The second component of CNA training is a clinical training period. This provides students with the chance to see how their coursework is applied in a real healthcare setting. Clinical work is done in a hospital and is completed alongside both LPNs and RNs who can show students how real world patient problems are handled. This also gives CNAs some insight into the real life stresses and complications which can arise with regards to patient care. Finally, it drives home the importance of good and effective communication. As part of a healthcare team, CNAs need to be able to relay information about their patients through verbal and written communication effectively and clearly.

Salaries Expectations

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics along with national job search websites, Certified Nursing Assistants made, on average, between $20,040 and $37,900 a year as of 2016.

As these figures include all workers, regardless of experience, it's important to note that in the field of Certified Nursing Assistants, experience does bring with it the ability to negotiate and receive a higher wage. Wages can also vary somewhat depending on the kind of work environment. For example, a CNA with little experience working in a Nursing Home makes around $8.50 per hour. Meanwhile, an experienced CNA working in that same Nursing Home can expect to make nearly $14 per hour. Variations like this hold true for other work environments as well. In a Hospital the range can be $8.87 for a new hire to $15 for a CNA with experience. As a Home Health Aide, CNAs can make between $8.19 and $14.47 and in a Long-Term Care or Rehabilitation facility the variance is $8.52 to $13.84.

In addition to work environment and experience, CNAs can also help to boost their own earning potential by focusing their skills and gaining expertise in a specific field. This is especially true for CNAs who enjoy working with specific types of patients, such as infants or newborns and the elderly. A CNA who has dedicated their time to working with elderly patients with dementia, for example, can use that to his or her advantage when looking for a new position. Employers want to hire people with specific background experience and these kinds of niche assignments can often pay more than general nursing assistant work can offer. CNAs can also increase their earning potential by taking specialized courses which compliment their degree and, of course, working more hours when available.

Working as a CNA can be one of the most versatile and rewarding careers available for those who want to get into the healthcare field. Certified Nursing Assistants work with patients in a truly hands on way which allows them to offer comfort and support to those who need it most. This can make it an immensely rewarding career for those with a true passion to help others.



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