If you’re interested in becoming a healthcare professional but aren’t sure where to start, you might want to consider becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). CNAs work closely with nurses to assist with basic patient needs, like stocking and collecting medical supplies, bathing and feeding patients, checking vital signs, and helping with some procedures.
As a CNA, you can work in a variety of settings, including in hospitals, assisted living centers, and even schools. Keep in in mind that a CNA is an entry-level career--according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can expect to earn between $10.22 and $19.02 per hour depending on where you live. You can usually complete a CNA program in just a few weeks, so if you’re looking to jumpstart your healthcare career, it’s a great option.
Nursing Assistant Education Requirements
The requirements to earn a CNA depend upon the state you live in, so check your specific state’s requirements before you begin your educational journey. Many colleges offer short CNA certification programs that introduce students to basic healthcare principles, and sometimes CNA programs will offer courses that can be applied later to an RN or a BSN as well. Some courses relevant to CNA work include
- Nursing Assistant/Patient Care Theory
- Nursing Assistant/Patient Care Clinical
- Medical Terminology
- CPR/First Aid
- Anatomy and Physiology
Where can I take nursing assistant courses?
You can find CNA certification courses at some four-year universities, many community colleges, and even online (though you’ll likely need to complete some clinical hours on-site). To enroll in a CNA program you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, and you should be prepared to pass a drug test and a background check. Most CNA programs can be completed within 6-12 weeks, though you may find some shorter and more compressed terms or some longer, more comprehensive options, too. If you’re interested in the possibility of transferring online classes from StraighterLine to your program, you may want to review any available options with the following StraighterLine partner schools (as well as one of the over 150 other schools our courses are guaranteed to transfer):
- Cecil College
- Monroe College
- University of the Potomac
- Cedar Valley College
Check with your local community college, too--schools near you are likely to offer easy solutions for completing your clinical hours.
How do I become a Certified Nursing Assistant
Each state has its own testing requirements as part of CNA licensure, so it’s important to do some research to see what your state specifically requires and to learn where certification examinations are offered in your state. 20 states require that candidates pass the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam, which consists of a written/oral portion and a skills demonstration. Once you’ve completed your requirements, you’ll be ready to begin your career as a CNA.
Becoming a CNA is one of the fastest ways to get started in a patient-centered career that’s challenging, fulfilling, and can be a stepping stone to more advanced careers in the healthcare field.
Anissa Sorokin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at Stevenson University near Baltimore, Maryland. Anissa’s interdisciplinary background and extensive experience teaching research, writing, and study skills help her demystify college expectations for students online and in her classroom.
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