How To Become A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

by TheCommuter Asst. Admin

12,261 Views | 16 Comments

The following article is a detailed response to the numerous queries that people make about becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA). The intended purpose of this article is to discuss the CNA role and the different ways in which an individual may become a CNA.

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    How To Become A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

    Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are healthcare workers who work under the supervision and direction of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or physicians. Keep in mind that CNAs are known by various titles including patient care assistants, patient care technicians, nurses aides, care partner, orderlies, and direct care staff members.

    CNAs assist in the routine care and daily activities of patients who require nursing care. Depending on the policies of specific healthcare facilities, CNAs may perform direct care such as vital sign checks, finger stick blood sugar testing, turning and repositioning of patients, toileting, feeding, dressing, grooming, bed baths, showers, emptying urinals and urinary catheter drainage bags, doing oral care, and changing linens.

    CNAs also answer call lights, report changes in patient condition, assist patients into and out of bed, operate mechanical lifts to transfer patients, occasionally transport patients to appointments, keep patients hydrated, maintain safety measures, document the care provided, and accomplish a whole host of other tasks that revolve around patient care.

    A handful of states use different titles to refer to their nursing assistants. For instance, the state of Michigan calls their nursing assistants competency evaluated nursing assistants (CENAs), and New Hampshire refers to their nursing assistants as licensed nursing assistants (LNAs). Furthermore, Ohio uses the title of state-tested nursing assistant (STNA) to refer to all nursing assistants who practice there.

    Every state has different requirements for the amount of training time and clinical hours needed to become a CNA. Generally, the training may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If you want certification, you will need formal training regardless of where you live in the United States. Fortunately, an individual who wishes to become a CNA has several options at his/her disposal.

    One option for training to become a CNA is to respond to a local ad at any number of nursing homes that offer free nurse aide training in exchange for a commitment to work at the same facility for a specified amount of time after one becomes certified. Another option is to train to become a CNA at one's local community college.

    Some people choose to obtain training at private for-profit schools or 'CNA academies' that offer the nursing assistant course, although this is the most expensive option. Another option is to receive training at a local Red Cross. State-operated adult education centers sometimes offer training to become a CNA.

    Being a CNA is not easy, and it is certainly not for everyone. However, the CNA role is perfect for someone who is a quick learner, physically adept, and passionate about helping patients. If you are a team player who can handle the joys, pains, ups, and downs of healthcare, the CNA job might be a perfect fit for you.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 24, '12
    SeattleJess, miabia, VickyRN, and 3 others like this.
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 26,843 Likes: 37,707; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


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    16 Comments so far...

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    Quote from TheCommuter

    Some people choose to obtain training at private for-profit schools or 'CNA academies' that offer the nursing assistant course, although this is the most expensive option.
    It all depends on the area. When I was looking at a CNA program 4 yrs ago, the community colleges cost about $1500, took 3 months & they had waiting lists. I decided to go to an independent CNA program (which I made sure was listed on the state's BON website) and it cost $925. It was just 4 weeks long & I passed my written & skills exams with flying colors. I enjoyed my time as a CNA & the experiences I had definitely benefited me in nursing school.
    SeattleJess likes this.
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    Quote from Nurse2bKimberly
    It all depends on the area. When I was looking at a CNA program 4 yrs ago, the community colleges cost about $1500, took 3 months & they had waiting lists. I decided to go to an independent CNA program (which I made sure was listed on the state's BON website) and it cost $925. It was just 4 weeks long & I passed my written & skills exams with flying colors. I enjoyed my time as a CNA & the experiences I had definitely benefited me in nursing school.
    I'm pleased that your experienced worked out well.

    I'm mostly referring to the CNA programs at the private-for-profit schools owned by major corporations. These are the trade schools that advertise heavily on television during daytime hours. Television commercials cost big bucks, so these schools tend to have expensive tuition.

    Several of these investor-owned schools offer the PCA (patient care assistant) program in the metro area where I live. Many uninformed students have gotten into tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt for overhyped training that is nothing more than CNA certification.
    SeattleJess and anie10 like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I'm pleased that your experienced worked out well.

    I'm mostly referring to the CNA programs at the private-for-profit schools owned by major corporations. These are the trade schools that advertise heavily on television during daytime hours. Television commercials cost big bucks, so these schools tend to have expensive tuition.

    Several of these investor-owned schools offer the PCA (patient care assistant) program in the metro area where I live. Many uninformed students have gotten into tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt for overhyped training that is nothing more than CNA certification.
    That is beyond scary. I read one post on the CNA forum a couple of yrs back about a guy who was thinking of going into an "advanced PCT" program that cost about $15 grand! I don't think these type of programs exist in my area..but boy oh boy are there a lot of medical assistant programs..but that's a totally different topic for another day lol.
    SeattleJess likes this.
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    I am going to start nursing school in the fall and I thought I would go to a cna class while I waited. I saw an ad in the paper for a for profit school for a PCT course. I called the and the program was 9 months long and cost 12,000!!!! No thanks, I'll just wait till after I finish my first semester to work as an aide.
  8. 1
    Quote from sali22
    I saw an ad in the paper for a for profit school for a PCT course. I called the and the program was 9 months long and cost 12,000!!!!
    Unfortunately, many people fall for the horribly overpriced PCA/PCT programs when they could have achieved the exact same training at a community college, adult education center, or a more affordable training program.
    anie10 likes this.
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    i think the requirements should be equal in every states.
    "
    every state has different requirements for the amount of training time and clinical hours needed to become a cna
    "

    since that way should help CNAs to get a suitable job when they move.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Apr 2, '13 : Reason: TOS - unapproved website link
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    Sali 22, how do you work as an aid after your first semester of nursing school, do you need a certification if you're in an rn program?
  11. 0
    Quote from nynurse1232b
    Sali 22, how do you work as an aid after your first semester of nursing school, do you need a certification if you're in an rn program?
    In most states, students are eligible to take the certification test if they have successfully completed the theory and skills portion (a.k.a. nursing fundamentals) of the first semester of nursing school.
  12. 0
    Quote from nynurse1232b
    Sali 22, how do you work as an aid after your first semester of nursing school, do you need a certification if you're in an rn program?
    I just learned about this as well thanks to these wonderful forums!

    Check out the thread: "How to become a CNA in CA while in nursing school". It's simple and step by step!

    If you don't live in CA, at least this thread can help you get the ball rolling!
    Goodluck!


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