What is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is one of the most important roles on a health care team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 11% from 2016 to 2026; which is faster than the average for all occupations.*
But what exactly is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
How do you become one?
Let us answer these questions for you.
Under the supervision of a Registered Nursed (RN) or Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN), a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) provides direct care to patients. Nursing assistants give personal, hands-on care to patients by providing assistance with essential daily tasks. These tasks include bathing, dressing, eating, as well as observing & reporting to the LPN/RN, ambulating & repositioning patients, taking & recording vital signs, and communicating with other team members about patients.
With a basic understanding of what a CNA's responsibilities entail, you can decide on whether becoming a CNA is for you. Generally speaking, there are plenty of good reasons to consider it. To start, it's the fastest route to becoming a professional member of a healthcare team - without having attended college. Once you're actively working in the healthcare industry as a CNA, you can then specialize in an area of medicine (hospice, senior living, or home health). It is also easier for CNA's to train and transition into becoming an LPN or RN.
On a personal level, the best reason for becoming a CNA is the satisfaction one receives by making a difference in other people’s lives. A CNA spends the most time with patients, and in doing so, they become most familiar with them; forming a trusting relationship that can greatly impact their lives. What's more satisfying than that? For those looking to become a CNA, getting certified isn't as difficult, or time consuming as you may assume.
Consider the steps outlined below:
1) Enroll in a CNA certification course.
Many public colleges in your city, offer quality, affordable classes that are certified by the State. At City College of New York's, Continuing And Professional Studies, our CNA program is not only New York State approved but it provides 100 hours of classroom instruction, in addition to 30 hours of internship experience. After successfully completing a course, you will be better prepared to take (and pass) your CNA certification exam!
Note: You must pass both the written and the clinical parts of your exam.
2) Register for your CNA certification exam.
Each state has its own specific requirements to become certified as a CNA. In the state of New York, you must take and pass the New York State Competency Examination. This exam is scheduled through Prometric. You must submit this application, along with the application fee, to the appropriate facility or agency. Once your application is processed, and approved, you will receive a confirmation letter that outlines your testing details (date, time, location).
3) Prepare for your exam!
With the knowledge and experience you gained from your CNA certification course, and internship, you are now better prepared to take the exam. While studying the reading material and notes for the written portion of the exam, do not forget to practice your skills! The Clinical Skills portion of your exam will test you on 3-5 skills, oftentimes, selected at random. It is always best to practice ALL of the skills, such as bed making, patient transfers, feeding, bathing, etc. And not just the ones you assume you'll get tested on.
A couple of items to remember is that you will only have 90 minutes to complete the 60-multiple choice exam, and the skills portion of your exam is typically timed. Administered by a Registered Nurse, you are given between 30-45 minutes to perform a specified number of CNA skills. You are graded based on your knowledge, ability to follow procedures, and overall demeanor.