CNA in a hospital

  1. I am 16 and I am deciding if I should take the class next semester to become a CNA or not. I have a couple questions I need answered before I make my decision.
    1.) Can a 16 year old get a job at a hospital as a CNA?
    2.) What does the average CNA do at a hospital? Is it really just giving baths or what else do they do?
    3.) If I get hired by a hospital, would they reimburse me for the CNA licensure? It is over $200 where.
    4.) I am going to college full time, in addition to high school classes, so would I be able to work part time? If so, how many hours would I have to work a week?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   Been there,done that
    CNA is a very difficult job. Nobody can do it at 16 years of age. Even if a hospital would hire you, they should not.

    Best wishes.
  4. by   Ed1897
    1. My hospital's age requirement for a nursing assistant is 18. Not sure if it's the law or just the hospitals rule. Nursing homes will hire anyone 16 or over with a certificate.
    2. My job is mainly changing patients, taking vitals, answering call lights, charting, etc. I don't do baths and I rarely feed patients because I work nights not days. sometimes I float to other units and I can also do a 1:1 (suicide watch)
    3. My hospital does not even require a cna certificate so no they did not reimburse. I know of nursing homes that do though. My hospital does do tuition reimbursement for college.
    4. I can only handle 24 hours (2 12 hour shifts) a week while going to school full time. I am not even in the nursing program yet so I'll see how that goes next semester. It just depends on the person and how hard you are willing to work.
  5. by   Terran22
    Quote from Been there,done that
    CNA is a very difficult job. Nobody can do it at 16 years of age. Even if a hospital would hire you, they should not.

    Best wishes.
    Are You saying that you think a 16 year old is incompitent of being a CNA or that it is not legal for a CNA to be 16 or 17?
  6. by   ProperlySeasoned
    I doubt a hospital would ever consider a 16 year old CNA, but, if you are mature and can handle yourself professionally, I see no reason why 2 years makes that much difference. There are work restrictions with regard to how much a 16 can work, but sounds like you are looking for something very part time. The hardest part of a CNA job is physical exertion and communication with your team. The first is no problem for a 16 year old, the latter comes with time and experience in a medical setting (regardless of age)
  7. by   Mavrick
    Quote from ProperlySeasoned
    I doubt a hospital would ever consider a 16 year old CNA, but, if you are mature and can handle yourself professionally, I see no reason why 2 years makes that much difference. There are work restrictions with regard to how much a 16 can work, but sounds like you are looking for something very part time. The hardest part of a CNA job is physical exertion and communication with your team. The first is no problem for a 16 year old, the latter comes with time and experience in a medical setting (regardless of age)
    At that age it can make a HUGE amount of difference. Most American 16 year olds do not have the maturity to handle the personal care of an adult.

    CNAs are not professionals and should not be expected to behave like professional nurses.
  8. by   mcluvin
    Being a CNA at a hospital is hard work (as is any CNA work) and usually (in many hospitals) you would work 36 hours weekly, in 12 hour shifts, 3 days per week. As a hospital CNA on oncology, I bathe patients, toilet patients, empty foley and ostomy bags, take vitals, order meals, feed patients who can't feed themselves, take various samples for the lab (sputum, stool, urine), walk patients who need walks, sit with patients who need sitters, assist nurses with dressing changes, and take blood sugars (many, many blood sugars).
    Hospitals can be very dangerous places as most have an open door policy, we have had many incidents that have put staff and patient safety at risk. For this reason it seems many hospitals might not take on the liability of hiring an underage CNA. A nursing home might hire you or an assisted living facility. Just stick it out wherever you can get hired and then do hospital work when you turn 18.
    Good luck! Being a CNA is wonderfully rewarding work.
    Last edit by mcluvin on Nov 13 : Reason: spelling
  9. by   verene
    You will probably not be hired as a CNA at 16. Many places will not hire anyone into direct patient care positions until they are at least 18 (for a whole host of legal and liability reasons).

    The details of a hospital position will vary some what based on the unit. I mostly took vitals, changed patients, re-positioned them, helped with toileting and bathing, assisted with feeding and occasionally provided 1:1 care or triage assistance. I also got to spend time just talking with my patients and their families helping to reduce boredom, stress, and anxiety.

    Some nursing homes will reimburse for CNA training. Neither the ALF or hospital I worked for offered repayment. Consider the expense an investment in your future. $200 is not a lot of money to invest in order to become employable. (Plus that is the cheapest I've ever heard of a CNA course being offered, Mine was about $600 and locally several cost 1K+)

    Working part-time while in college is possible. How many hours will be up to how well you can manage your different commitments, how much you need time to sleep/study etc and what other commitments you may have in life while in school (e.g. are you caring for an older relative as well?) As to how much an employer will require you to work, that depends on the employer and what kind of job you get hired into. An on-call position may have a requirement of once shift every 3 months, but a full-time position would expect you to work 40 hours
  10. by   Destin293
    I think you would be hard pressed to find a hospital that would hire a 16 year old as a CNA. There are so many rules when it comes to minors working (such as amount of hours that can be worked and when) that most managers just don't want to deal with the extra hassle. If you're taking college classes and still attending high school classes, that's even more reason for a hospital to not want to deal with hiring a minor.

    Being a CNA is tough work as aides do must of the grunt work...taking vitals, bathing patients, changing patients, feeding patients, ambulating patients, etc. But it's also not all skills based, critical thinking is crucial. Nurses depend on the aides to be another set of eyes if a patient's condition is changing.

    I would try LTC, though. It will give you exposure to direct patient care and build a good foundation when you eventually move to the acute care setting.
  11. by   Meowzers
    I work as a CNA on an Adult Med/Surg Floor. It is a very hands on job, and can be very physically demanding and fast paced. I previously worked at a desk, and I much prefer being on my feet, interacting with people, and being busy for the whole 12 hour day. However, it isn't for everyone.

    Regarding hours, it is pretty easy to work what you need to and still go to school. I work PRN, which means I signed a contract saying that I will work a minimum of 2 shifts in a 6 week period, and I can work a maximum of 12 shifts in a 6 week period. 24 hours in 6 weeks in pretty easy to commit to, but each hospital will differ regarding what they consider PRN. Hospitals usually have a fair amount of PRN CNA jobs since many CNAs are working in that capacity while they work toward a nursing degree or a degree in another medical field. It's a good way to get your foot in the door with the hospital of your choice. Keep in mind that if you are working PRN, you will most likely not receive any benefits or PTO. It's a trade off for the flexibility you get.

    At my hospital, CNAs can become certified in additional skills called +4s. These can differ from hospital to hospital depending on your state's scope of practice and your hospital's rules. My duties as a CNA include: taking vitals, taking blood sugars, inserting and removing catheters, removing IVs, prepping IV fluids, basic oral suctioning on awake/alert patients, setting up and beginning/changing/discontinuing oxygen therapy per the nurse's orders, setting up and removing meal trays and documenting intake, basic bandage changes on very simple wounds, assisting with baths, assisting with toileting, turning the patient if needed, ambulating the patient if needed, changing sheets, feeding patients if necessary, escorting discharged patients out of the hospital, sitting with patients who need constant observation, and more. The biggest job of the CNA is to be the nurse's extra eyes and ears - if something has changed with the patient, we are usually the first ones to know because of how much hands on work we do with them, and it is our job to report that to the nurse. The nurses I work with know I am in nursing school and are wonderful about showing me interesting things or things that I should know/will see in school when they have time.

    Many hospitals do have tuition reimbursement programs, but I highly doubt they would pay for initial licensure obtained before signing on with them. If they have tuition reimbursement, they will also likely have a cap on how much you get depending on your hours worked, time with the hospital, grades maintained, etc. But, every little bit helps.

    Unfortunately, I have never seen a hospital that hires people under the legal age of 18 in a patient care capacity. You could, however, volunteer in some other way - my current manager started as a candy striper at 16 and worked all the way up to the manager of our very busy floor. As for LTC facilities or Nursing Homes, they would have different rules and legal restrictions, so you may be able to find work there at 16. Keep in mind that hospital nursing and LTC nursing can be very different.

    Are you wanting to pursue a college degree in Nursing? Starting out as a CNA is a great way to see if it is for you. Keep in mind being a CNA is different from being a nurse in many ways, but it is a great way to hone your basic patient care skills and learn how to build a rapport with patients.

    Good luck!

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