It is not difficult to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), however, you need to learn through a certified CNA program and successfully pass the state test. A CNA career is quite fulfilling, and gives you an easy entry into the medical field, from where you can progress to higher career prospects.
Minimum Qualifications and Age For Becoming A CNA
To enter into a program of CNA certification you need a high school diploma. Individuals who have not obtained a school diploma can take GED tests, and on successfully clearing them, are eligible to enter the CNA program. The best career advice anyone will ever give you is to stay in school and get your diploma if you’re serious about becoming a CNA. The minimum age may differ between states, but generally, it is between 16 to 18 years. However, certain programs have their own age requirements, irrespective of the state limitations. Some CNA courses only enroll individuals who have are 18 years old, even when the state allows individuals of 16 years.
Where to Find CNA Programs
A CNA training program is conducted at various community colleges, hospitals, and nursing homes, and by the American Red Cross. There are many online CNA training courses as well, run by reputed establishments. However, whatever training program you select, make sure it is accredited by NLNAC (National League for Nursing Accredited Commission).
What Does CNA Training Cost?
The cost of the training program mainly depends on the type of college or institution you join. Usually training at local community colleges can cost $400 to $600. Apart from the course fees, there is a fee for taking the test as well. Certain nursing homes and hospitals give free training, however the individual will have to work at the health facility for certain duration in exchange for the training. Some facilities will also bear the expenses of the state test as well.
How Long Does CNA Training Programs Last?
CNA training programs are divided into two parts. There is classroom learning where the individual is given theoretical knowledge, and taught practical skills. There are also clinical sessions, to apply and practice the knowledge and skills learnt in the classrooms. The individual gets experience on the job, and these sessions are usually held in a care facility or hospital.
The total time for training is usually 75 to 120 hours, including 16 hours of clinical sessions under supervision. The duration will mainly depend on the training institute; however, each state has set a mandatory minimum training duration. If you are undergoing free training at a nursing home, you might have to put in full-time hours, whereas at a community college the course might last anywhere between six to twelve weeks.
Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) Certification Test
After successfully completing the required training hours, the individual becomes qualified to appear for the CNA certification exam. This test is held by the Nurse Aide Registry of the state, and the certificate awarded will be valid only for that particular state. The test too, is split into two components. First, you have to give a written test, in which your theoretical knowledge is tested, through objective-type questions. The second part is for testing your practical skills. The individual is usually called to demonstrate five skills learnt in the program, on a live person.
Obtaining Your CNA License
On successfully passing the CNA certification exam, the name of the individual is entered in the Nurse Aide Registry, and is issued a license to practice as CNA in that particular state. However, an individual can transfer their certification to another state if required. Each state has a different policy regarding such transfer, and some states might require the individual to take another exam. Therefore, it is always better to complete your CNA training and certification exam in the state where you want to become a CNA and practice.