What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) works under the supervision of nurses to provide high-quality care to patients. Although the job requires long hours and many responsibilities, the daily care of patients provides some of the best rewards any hour profession can offer. Not to mention, the skills you learn as a certified nursing assistant can prepare you for a long-term career in the nursing field.
CNAs provided assistance with tasks such as:
- Help with range of motion exercises
- Transfer patients in wheelchairs using safe handling devices
- Bath and care
- Mouth and hair care
- Tender beds
- Assist with the cleaning and care of the catheter
- Assistance with bowel and bladder problems
- Take vital signs (temperature, pulse, blood pressure)
- Help patients walk with gait belts, walkers, canes, and other devices
- Monitor and accommodate bedridden patients on a regular basis
- Report all changes in patients to the nurse
- Observation, reports and documentation
- Postmortem care
Some of the technical skills you will develop as a CNA are:
- Hand washing
- Indirect care
- Blood pressure measurement
- Body temperature measurement
- Pulse measurement and recording
- Respiration measurement and recording
- Measuring the output of a urine bag
- Ambulation with a walking belt
- Oral care
- Oral care with dentures
- Oral care for unconscious patient
- Bathroom with a urinal
- Hand and nail care
- Foot care
- Transfer to a wheelchair
- Change of position in bed
- Changing an occupied bed
- Perineal care (female)
- Perineal care (male)
- Catheter care
- Partial Bed Bath
- Dress a resident with a weak arm
- Application of elastic support stockings
- Body Positions: Supine, Prone, Lateral, Sim’s, and Fowler’s
- Range of motion exercises (shoulder)
- Range of motion exercises (elbow, wrist)
- Range of motion exercises (hip, knee, ankle)
- Application of saline solutions intravenously
A good CNA has and masters most of the following skills:
- Knowledge of patients in the facility
- Ability to communicate with nurses, residents and families
- Adaptability: every change is different
- Emotional stability and patience
- Time management and prioritization
- Compassion and empathy
- Sense of humor
- Satisfaction from doing a job well done
Reasons to Become a CNA
There are a number of reasons to consider becoming a CNA, including that it is the fastest way to become a professional member of the health care team as no college education is required. A CNA training program can be completed in a period of 6 to 10 weeks, and immediately begin to practice this new profession.
Another benefit of becoming a CNA is the chance to start a long career in health care. An experienced CNA is exposed to a wide variety of job opportunities and may specialize in one area of medicine, such as hospice or home health. Certified Nursing Assistants can choose to train as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or as a Registered Nurse (RN).
One of the best reasons to become a CNA is the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of patients and residents by basking in care as highly trained professionals. As a direct care provider, CNAs spend more time with patients and residents than any other member of the team. They have the opportunity to get acquainted with patients and to establish trusting relationships. Not every day is easy, anyone in the health industry will tell you, but it can be rewarding.
CNA Job Outlook
Certified Nursing Assistants are currently in high demand and the need is projected to continue through 2024.
This number will only increase as the baby boomer generation ages and there is a greater demand for additional long-term nursing care facilities. Nursing assistants will be needed to care for this population, which is more likely to suffer from dementia and other neurological changes.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for nursing assistants will grow 11% from 2014 to 2024.
Potential places to work:
- Home care
- Nursing home
- Assisted living community
- Emergency clinic
- Correctional facility
- Inpatient Mental Health Facility
Salary of a CNA
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for certified nursing assistants in 2016 was $26,590. It is important to note that this varies depending on each professional. CNAs working in a government setting like a hospital earned the highest median salary at $37,450, while home health care services had the lowest median salary at $25,590.
Certified nursing assistants can work a variety of hours, depending on the needs of the employer. Some work multiple shifts over the course of the week, while others have fixed hours and earn a fixed annual salary. Those paid on an hourly scale may receive overtime pay, while salaried employees will need to discuss it with the hiring committee. An individual’s earning potential is determined by the needs of the hospital and the employment contract.
How can I become a CNA?
Certified nursing assistants must complete a training program approved by the state in which they reside. These programs are usually located at local community colleges, high schools, vocational or technical schools, or local hospitals.
Programs vary, so it is important for interested students to thoroughly research Nursing Assistant classes to find the program that best suits their needs.
Most programs have similar requirements that must be completed prior to the application and acceptance process.
What will you learn in the CNA Study Program?
Each program offers extensive training in the essential skills needed to provide daily patient care: bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting. CNAs learn how to transfer and accommodate patients, and help residents walk or exercise. Training on observing and reporting symptoms is also important.
In addition to personal care, the training covers a wide variety of topics:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Infection control
- Vital signs and measurements
- Communication and teamwork
- Cultural diversity
- Patient Rights
- Mental health
- Nursing assistant classes also teach the legal aspects of health care, including data collection, documentation, reporting potential abuse, and protecting patient confidentiality.
What to Expect as a CNA?
Know exactly what the job responsibilities are, either at the interview or when you complete the hiring paperwork, you will be given a copy of the job description. You must read the duties carefully, as this document will mention what your job performance will be based on, the physical demands of the job, the education and experience requirements and the salary.
Make sure you understand everything about the position, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even on the busiest of days, never attempt a task that isn’t in the job description or for which you haven’t been trained.
Being a CNA is an important job. Healthcare could not function without CNAs. Because he spends more time with patients and residents, he knows them better than other members of the team. He may be the first to notice a change in patients’ condition, so the nurses depend on him to report something new or unusual.
As a CNA, you will be caring for all types of patients and residents. Some will have chronic conditions that last for years; others may get sick and die quickly. Learning to be comfortable with people in critical health is a good skill to develop. Patients will seek help in the final stage of their life. One of the most satisfying parts of being a CNA is knowing that you were able to comfort someone.
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