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What exactly does a CNA do?

How long is the average program length to train to become one? I am considering it for this summer but am not sure how long the schooling is.....what is it like where you live?



139 Posts

I was trained for free at a Nursing home during a two week class with 3 days of clinicals, then I took the State Licensing Exam. I did not have to commit to employment with the Nursing home which was an added bonus. The class is pretty simple. I am now a CNA in a large teaching hospital and I get so much out of it, even if the pay isn't that great. The nurses grab me when they are going to do a procedure so I can watch and learn. It has also given me some idea of what a normal day in a hospital is like. Go for it this summer! It is very valuable! Good luck!


139 Posts

Sorry...A CNA does basic cares for patients under the direction of a RN. This includes Activities of Daily living (bathing, repositioning, transferring). In my facility we also pull IV's, D/C foleys...etc, but some hospitals do not allow their CNA's to do some of those skills.


408 Posts

Each state is different as far as what a CNA can do and how many hours you have to have in school. Usually the course in given by nursing homes, community colleges, or school districts. Try checking with your state Board of Nursing to find out the specifics.

Generally CNA's provide care for patients under the supervision of a nurse. Bed baths, mouth care, help with dressing, take vital signs, help with ambulating pts or help them up to a chair. The duties vary by the setting also, nursing homes and hospitals may have different duties for the CNA to perform. Some CNA's can do blood sugar fingerstick testing, D/C IV's, foleys, NG tubes.


419 Posts

I worked as a CNA for a lot of years before deciding to go on to nursing school. CNA's basically do pt care (baths, feeding, making beds, taking vital signs, answer call lights). I'm glad that I had the experience of being a CNA before I attended nursing school. I feel that I have an advantage over the students that had no experience in healthcare at all.


738 Posts

If you are a student and only planning to work as a cna for the summer, look into hospital based summer externships. I did this and I actually shadowed an RN for 12 weeks. I did basic patient care but also learned a lot from my preceptor as to the duties and responsibilities of the nurse. I think you have to have the first year of a 2 year program completed to apply, but I'm not sure if all programs are alike. After the initial 6 weeks on Med/surg, I got to go to OB, the OR and the cardiac cath lab to observe and learn. I really liked it. I think there is an old thread about externships on this forum. It might give you an idea about other peoples' experiences too.

Good luck to you in whatever you decide.


oh and by the way, I did get paid to do this!


1 Post

I started off as a CNA first and I am glad I did so. As I continue my nursing career, I have a better understanding of nursing as a whole and whether or not I am cut out for nursing, because there are some situations that challenges your very being for example: doctors, co-wokers, pt and their family members, but as you achieve experince you learn to adapt to the challenges you incounter.When I attended nursing school, I reflected back on my CNA experince and I was the head of my class,because of my humble beginnings. In the entire class I was the only CNA ,so when it was time for clinicals it was a breeze. My husband thought I was nuts starting as a CNA, but I am very proud of myself for my starting as an CNA. I would not change a thing.


285 Posts

I took a 6 week course at the Red Cross. The length of the classes were different depending on if you took the day class, night, or weekend one. You didn't need any experience or anything. You basically help with bathing, feeding, ambulating, etc. You should do it! I took it and am in the process of getting certified w/ the state. I think it will come in handy later when I get into nursing school and give you an added advantage with the experience.



952 Posts

My community college actually requires that you be a CNA by the time you start your nursing classes. I am going to be taking the NA Training course this summer on Saturdays (I hope...if I can get in, that is!) and it runs the entire quarter (10 weeks) from 8am-4:30pm. They have lecture, lab & then clinicals which take place in an LTC center.


1,037 Posts

I think all nursing schools should require you to be a CNA or some type of Aide first.... I think it makes for an excellent foundation to build upon..

maire, ASN, RN

1,173 Posts

Specializes in Adult Med-Surg, Rehab, and Ambulatory Care.

This is off the orignal topic of the post. LOL But...

Just my 2 cents here...some of the folks in my class are CNAs (maybe 5 or 6 out of 50) but most, like me, had zero patient experience starting nursing school. I do not feel at a disadvantage in clinicals at all, nor do I think that I should have gone the CNA route before starting nursing school. I, and the rest of my classmates, are on an even footing when it comes to clinicals, and by the end of the semester we'll all be in the same place anyway. The first thing we learned in clinicals was bed baths, linen changes, repositioning, etc...basic CNA work. If you went in there knowing how to do it, you did it anyway. If you went in there not knowing how to do it, you learned.

I think it's a great idea to become a CNA to see if you really have a feel for the medical profession, but I don't think it should be a necessity to start nursing school.


jschut, BSN, RN

2,743 Posts

Our CNA's are the ones who do most of the care for the patient, such as bathing, feeding, ambulating, etc...

They are also my eyes and ears since I cannot be everywhere at once.

The CNA's on my 3rd shift are the most amazing and wonderful people I have ever met......fantastic to work with!

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