One of the fastest ways to get a foot in the door of nursing in the United States is to train as a certified nursing assistant or CNA. Due to the increasing need for nurses in the health care industry, many opt for fast-track education to be able to have the necessary academic credentials to qualify for employment as a nurse. More often than not, a CNA pathway to nursing is a practical choice among many.
To become a certified nursing assistant, one must undergo through a short training program to have the rudimentary knowledge and skills expected of an assistant nurse. The training aids nurses to prepare for the certification exam mandated for all CNAs to qualify for employment. Note however that certain areas in the United States do not necessitate a formal training to be eligible for application for the exam. However, training is still very much encouraged for a more structured learning.
Certified Nursing Assistant Training Programs
Enrolling into a CNA training program is the initial step to becoming a certified nursing assistant. These programs are offered in community colleges, vocational and technological schools, private nursing schools, and universities. Other institutions like the Red Cross and certain medical facilities also offer CNA training programs.
To qualify for admission, you must be able to have the following requirements:
- Age requirement – You must be at least 18 years old as mandated by US law.
- High school diploma or GED – You must be at least a high school graduate or have acquired your GED. This implies that you have also taken the general prerequisite courses for the training, such as health and sciences, biology, chemistry, and English communications.
- Medical clearance – The practice requires physical and mental stamina; hence, it is necessary to be physically fit to qualify for admission.
- English proficiency – For international students, you may need to take the IELTS or TOEFL to test your English communication skills.
The training program usually takes about 3 to 6 months to complete, depending on the coursework you have chosen. It can be taken full-time, part-time, or online. The program encompasses the basic theoretical knowledge and essential patient care skills, such as bed bathing, ambulation, feeding, and grooming.
CNA Certification Examination
After completion of the training program, the next step to becoming a certified nursing assistant is to take the certification exam. To apply, you must have the following:
- CNA training certificate – This is a supplementary document as proof of your completion of an accredited and state-approved CNA training program. Note that the board of nursing may be selective in their approval of applicants, depending on the eligibility of the training program.
- 8 hours of practical work – You must have at least 8 hours of practical and hands-on training as a CNA in an actual medical facility.
There are two steps to becoming a certified nursing assistant in the United States: first is to undergo a 3- to a 6-month training program for nurses, and second is to take and pass the certification exam for CNAs.
More here: CNA Licence Requirements