Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are critical members of healthcare teams in a variety of medical facilities. These individuals work alongside other kinds of nurses and health professionals like Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), nurse practitioners, and Registered Nurses (RNs), as well as physicians and specialists, to implement care plans and improve patient outcomes.
The healthcare industry has been in the spotlight over the past two years or so—and the demand for skilled nurses including CNAs is higher than ever. This is a rewarding and meaningful career for nurses, and it’s also a great starting point for nurses who wish to advance their skills and education in the future. Many CNAs go on to become LPNs, RNs, and more.
What is it, exactly, that a CNA does? What does it take to become one, and what’s the job outlook like? Read on to learn more about this wonderful profession and find out why right now is the perfect time to switch careers and become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
Certified Nursing Assistants care for patients, usually under the supervision of a nurse or team of nurses. They assist with patient care routines and help patients to perform daily activities. Typical day-to-day job duties include:
- Supporting patients with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, personal hygiene activities, getting out of bed, walking, exercising, eating, etc.
- Turning and repositioning bedridden patients
- Obtaining information from physicians and caregivers about treatment plans
- Taking and recording vital signs including blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate
- Observing patient behavior and complaints of symptoms
CNAs can work in a variety of medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctor’s offices, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and more.
How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant
To become a CNA, you don’t need a college degree like you would for other types of nursing paths—that’s one of the things that makes the CNA career path a good option for nurses beginning their careers. However, you will need a certification from a state-accredited training program.
Most CNA training programs last between four and 12 weeks, although some can last longer. These programs are often offered at community colleges and technical schools. Curriculum topics will include things like basic nursing care, taking vital signs, infection control protocols, ethics in nursing, client rights, and more.
Once you’ve completed classroom training and the required number of clinical hours in the field, you’ll need to pass your state’s competency exam to officially become a CNA. This test, while it varies by state, usually includes a section of multiple-choice questions as well as a manual skills test in which you’ll be evaluated while demonstrating skills on a patient or someone acting as a patient. Once you’ve passed, you can obtain your CNA certification and start working in the state where you’re certified.
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Why Should You Consider Becoming a CNA?
What are some of the reasons to become a Certified Nursing Assistant? This rewarding career offers job stability, an easy and affordable path to get started, and the chance to work in different environments, just to name a few.
As long as people need healthcare, healthcare facilities will need nurses. And with an aging population that will need more healthcare in the coming years, the job stability of the CNA career is good. It’s generally very easy for CNAs, even recent graduates, to find employment, as the profession is in high demand.
Easy and Affordable to Get Started
As mentioned above, most CNA certification programs take only four to 12 weeks to complete. And according to cna.plus, the average cost of these programs is around $1300.00. So, it’s relatively quick, easy, and affordable to become a working CNA—it’s a great way to break into the world of nursing without going into steep debt or investing years in education.
Chance to Work in Different Environments
CNAs can work in a variety of different environments, from hospitals and emergency rooms to specialty facilities and nursing homes. That gives CNAs a chance to explore many different working environments, deciding what they prefer and what sort of patients they like to work with.
The CNA Job Outlook
The CNA job outlook is very good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of CNA jobs in the U.S. is expected to increase by 9% between 2018 and 2028. That’s faster than the average for most occupations. There are several reasons for that, including:
- An aging population. The country’s 76 million baby boomers are starting to retire and get older, requiring much more healthcare and therefore more qualified nurses to administer it. CNAs are in a unique position to help with that demand.
- The Affordable Care Act. With the implementation of the ACA, more Americans are insured than ever before. More individuals have access to basic healthcare as a result, increasing the need for CNAs and other nursing professionals.
- Turnover rates. Since many CNAs move on and become RNs or other types of nurses, CNA turnover rates are relatively high. But here’s the silver lining: It means that it’s never too hard for recent graduates to find work.
What is the Career Path for CNAs?
We’ve already touched on some of the opportunities that CNAs have to advance their nursing careers if they so choose. It’s one of the great things about becoming a CNA—you have many options and avenues for continuing your career in nursing.
Many CNAs choose to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). And because you can get LPN program credits from your previous CNA experience, it’s a good path for many. You’ll need to find an accredited program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) exam to become licensed.
Other CNAs choose to bypass the LPN route and focus on becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). You’ll need to return to school to earn either an Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN), and then sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered. Note that in some states, facilities require RNs to have a BSN and won’t hire you if you only have an ADN.
In either case, the CNA job and the on-the-floor experience you’ll gain from your work will prove invaluable as you advance your CNA career.
The Impact of COVID on the Job of a CNA
It’s safe to say that the pandemic changed the healthcare industry, permanently. And the CNA profession is no exception. These individuals became the lifelines for patients during the pandemic, serving as the vital human connection between patients and their care teams. The impact they had did not go unnoticed—there is a renewed significance to the concept of caregiving by people like CNAs.
On a practical level, new regulations regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) and taking measures to ensure environmental safety have entered the CNA profession. The job duties of CNAs might not look incredibly different from the time the pandemic started, but the significance of their work and the way they approach their jobs has certainly shifted.
How to Find CNA Jobs Near You
Are you interested in finding a CNA job near you, or exploring this exciting career path in more detail? Working with a healthcare recruiter who specializes in this area is a great way to make it happen. When you partner with a recruiter backed by a CNA job agency, you’ll get advantages like:
- Exclusive access to jobs. Your recruiter has access to job openings that don’t appear on the major job boards, giving you exclusive access to positions that others can’t see.
- A trusted career advocate. Your recruiter has your back and will take the time to understand your background, experience, and career goals. Then, they’ll negotiate on your behalf to find you the best role and pay rates available.
- Interview prep and resume polishing. Your recruiter will help you polish your resume and prepare for interviews with hiring managers, helping you to make the best first impression possible.
Ready for a New CNA Job?
The CNA career path is a valuable, rewarding, and meaningful one. CNAs are vital parts of healthcare teams across the country, and with a solid job outlook and plenty of advancement opportunities, it’s a great career option for nursing professionals.
If you’re looking for Certified Nursing Assistant jobs near you, trust the CNA staffing agency with the experience and know-how to help: BOS Medical Staffing. Whether you’re just starting out as a CNA or you’re ready to take your career to the next level, our experienced recruiters are here for you. Contact a member of our team today to get started.