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What is a CNA? How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Are you thinking about becoming a certified nursing assistant or CNA?

For people aspiring to become nurses, one of the fastest and most economical ways of achieving your goal is using a CNA position as a springboard. You can earn your nursing degree in less time than in traditional registered nursing programs. You can do this while working as a CNA and gaining valuable experience in the world of healthcare.

But even without becoming a registered nurse (RN), a career as a CNA can be fulfilling and exciting on its own.

What is a CNA? CNAs are as vital to healthcare as doctors, nurses, and physical therapists. They provide the basics of care and daily living to patients and see to their comfort and quality of life.

Read on to learn about this career choice and how to become a CNA.

What Is a CNA?

Is a CNA a nurse? A certified nursing assistant isn’t a nurse, but they work under the direct supervision of an RN or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). They’re also known as nurse’s aides or patient care assistants.

What does a CNA do? CNAs perform tasks that focus on the patients’ basic needs in hospitals, assisted living, and other facilities. Their duties include assisting patients with eating, bathing, and activities of daily living.

Unlike nurses, CNAs aren’t involved in administering medical services, but they assist nurses in this regard. Other CNA expectations include measuring and recording vital signs and dressing wounds.

Steps to Become a CNA

Do you need a degree to be a CNA? No, you don’t. Most states only require a high school diploma or GED to enroll in a nurse assistant program.

Becoming a CNA requires less time and money commitment than other medical professions. It’s one of the most attractive options for people without a degree who want to pursue a career in healthcare.

Below are the basic steps to becoming a CNA.

Complete a State-Approved CNA Training Program

To become a CNA, first, you must complete a state-approved vocational program. You can enter a CNA program offered by a technical school or a local community college in your state.

Most programs involve lectures (which you can take online) and a practical rotation. Classes focus on helping you communicate and interact with patients, doctors, and nurses. Your skills and knowledge will be assessed through a written and clinical exam.

Typically, you can complete a CNA training program in less than a year.

In-Person Training

Most states also require you to complete a certain number of hours of “hands-on” training. An RN or a CNA will supervise you while you learn about the day-to-day tasks of a nursing assistant. You can complete the in-person training at a local hospital or clinic.

Getting Certified

Completing the in-person clinical training makes you eligible to take a state-approved examination. The details vary depending on the state but usually include a written and a manual skills test.

Your name will be placed in the state registry when you pass the CNA certification exam. Congratulations, you’re now qualified to work as a nursing assistant!

A Career Choice You Won’t Regret

What is a CNA? While many consider it an entry-level job, a CNA position can be rewarding, especially if you’re passionate about helping people. It also opens up other opportunities to take the next step in your medical career.

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