What is a CNA?
A certified nursing assistant or CNA is a healthcare professional who provides hands-on assistance to patients in the activities of their daily lives. They also provide other healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). CNAs can also be referred to as Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Assistants (PCA), or Nurse’s Aid.
How do CNAs differ from a MA or LPN?
CNAs and Medical Assistants (MAs) have some similarities, but they also have their differences. Both professions assist Registered Nurses (RNs), doctors, and other healthcare providers, such as providing treatment to patients, helping with procedures, and performing tests on patients. Medical Assistants mainly focus on patient assessment, evaluation, and assisting doctors and other nurses with patient treatment and care. CNAs focus primarily on the job-specific duties that are dictated by the State of employment.
What do CNAs do?
Being a CNA means working with medical staff in administering to patients with various injuries, disabilities, or illnesses. They can be responsible for feeding patients, bathing and maintaining proper hygiene, assessing their vital signs, and making sure they take their medication on time.
Where do CNAs work?
Certified Nursing Assistants accounted for around 1.4 million jobs in 2020. The largest employers of CNAs are as follows:
- Nursing care facilities – 37%
- Hospitals; State, local, and private – 30%
- Retirement communities and assisted living for the elderly – 11%
- Home healthcare services – 6%
- Government facilities – 4%
Being a Certified Nursing Assistant can be a strenuous job. Most of their time is spent on their feet as they care for patients. Due to the patients under their care, nursing facilities and hospitals provide care at all hours of the day, requiring CNAs to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
What are the typical hours a CNA works?
Since Certified Nursing Assistants are required to provide care to patients 24/7 excellently, someone must always be available at any time, including on holidays. Many people choose an 8-hour shift for a five-day work week, while others will choose to work for 12 hours per day to have an extra day or two off, but this all depends on your workplace. Some require anywhere from 32 to 48 hours per week. The important thing is whether a CNA takes a 12-hour shift. For some, working 12 hours each day for three days is worth it for a 4-day weekend.
Most CNA shifts will also overlap to avoid sudden transitions. These shift transitions can cause problems, with miscommunication and overlooking things causing the most considerable pain and headache for the staff. Miscommunication about a medicine, an inaccurate dose, or undocumented changes in the patient can cause severe problems for both the caregiving staff and the patient.
Patient care is the utmost priority regardless of your shift length and the hours required. Keeping yourself at the top of your game is essential to providing excellent care to your patients and peace of mind to their loved ones.
Important CNA Skills:
Communication skills: Clear communication is a critical skill for CNA, as they work directly with many different groups, from patients and their family members, to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, dietitians, and other medical professionals.
Compassion: Compassion is a necessary skill for every type of healthcare job, including being a Certified Nursing Assistant. To offer care that has a beneficial impact on their patients, nursing assistants must have empathy for the struggles that their patients are going through and work to bring a caring manner to the bedside that helps to put patients and their loved ones at ease.
Patience: CNAs are responsible for giving constant comfort and care to patients who may be irritable due to their medical conditions. Some elderly patients may be scared, confused, aggressive, or suspicious of their environment and those giving them care. Keeping a supportive and calm demeanor can help CNAs provide the best care without worsening a challenging situation.
Record-keeping: In some hospitals or nursing homes, CNAs are responsible for keeping records on their patients, including their treatment, when they received it, and how they reacted to it. Keeping a detailed and up-to-date description of patient treatments helps doctors and nurses to give patients the best treatment possible.
In many large work environments, you will not be the only person assigned to a patient. Keeping accurate records helps limit confusion amongst the staff and allows other caregivers to know when and how much medication to give patients.
Physical Stamina: CNAs can be on their feet for hours. They must also be able to perform physical labor, such as lifting or moving heavy objects or patients.
Knowledge of Medical Terminology: A general knowledge of medical conditions, infections, and other general terminology used in the medical world is an important skill for CNAs. This knowledge is essential, so that accurate notes and further details about a patient’s condition can be taken. During your first CNA job, you will gain this knowledge through experience. Many employers will teach you the correct way to discuss medical terminology. If you already have this knowledge from a previous employer, include it on your resume.
Consistency: While working with patients, an established list of protocols helps keep everything running smoothly. If there is an expected operating procedure on how to clean and dress a wound or a specific way to fill out paperwork, you will be expected to be able to replicate the desired result every time. Inability to do so could lead to significant problems for the patient or the healthcare provider.
Proper Hygiene: Proper hygiene is essential to prevent diseases from spreading in a place with sick patients and others at risk of getting sick. Most large hospitals and nursing homes may separate their patients by condition, helping to limit the spread of infections throughout the hospital, but proper handwashing and other hygiene skills are essential nonetheless.
How Do I Become a CNA?
To become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must complete a course to become certified by your State. For the State of Georgia, all CNAs must complete a minimum of 85 hours (though most courses offered are more), with at least 24 being hands-on experience in a nursing home. Most of these courses are offered over periods ranging from 8 weeks to 1 year to complete.
After completion, you must take the Georgia CNA test. The test, given by the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP), consists of 2 parts: written and skills evaluation. Both details must be passed to be listed on the Georgia Nurse Aide Registry. The written section is 70 questions long, 60 multiple choice, and ten reading comprehension questions.
The Skill Evaluation will be 25 minutes long and include 5 of the following randomly selected nurse aide skills:
- Client Rights
- Legal and Ethical Behavior
- Being a member of the Healthcare Team
- Activities of Daily Living
- Hygiene, Dressing/Grooming, Nutrition, Hydration, Elimination, and Rest/Sleep
- Spiritual and Cultural Needs
- Other Basic Nursing Skills
Education Requirements for CNAs:
CNAs are required to have a high school diploma or a GED. Most nursing assistants need to complete a state-approved program that includes instruction on nursing and clinical work principles. These programs are available at some high schools, community colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, and vocational and technical schools.
In addition to their classroom training, CNAs must complete a period of on-the-job training to gain first-hand experience.
Best CNA Programs in Georgia:
Athens Technical College (Athens, GA) offers a State of Georgia-approved CNA training program under the supervision of health care professionals. During the program, you will learn how to assist with the essential daily physical and emotional needs of a person(s) with chronic or debilitating conditions. Successful graduates are eligible to take the State Exam and receive their CNA Certification.
Lanier Technical College (Gainesville, GA) is a State approved Nurse Aide Training Program (NATP). LTC offers training to candidates who desire to work in all health care facilities (hospitals, home health, hospice, nursing homes, etc.). After completing the State training program, the candidate must pass the competency evaluation examination. This includes a written and oral skills examination that an approved registered nurse evaluates. Students who successfully pass the competency evaluation examination will be included in the Georgia Nurse Aide Registry. These courses are offered at the Barrow, Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, and Jackson locations of Lanier Technical College.
At North Georgia Nursing Academy (Flowery Branch, GA), students will be introduced to basic nursing skills, such as communication, resident rights, body mechanics, infection control, and assisting residents with daily care. Students will gain experience as nursing assistants at a Long-Term Care Facility and must pass the Georgia State Competency Exam.
To successfully pass, students must achieve at least 70% on every course, along with 100% participation in labs and 24 hours of clinical in a Long-Term Care Facility. Breakdown of program cost:
- Tuition: $600.00
- Books and Supplies: $300.00
- Application Fee: $100.00
- Total Cost: $1,000.00
The University of West Georgia (Carrolton, GA) CNA Program (UWGCNAP) is approved by the Georgia Department of Community Health (GDCH). The UWGCNAP also meets standards outlined in the Policies and Procedures of Certified Nursing Aide’s Training Program (NATP). The courses will be taught in English only and total 88 hours, consisting of 31 classroom hours, 33 lab hours, and 24 hours of clinical practice in a long-term care facility. After completing the course, students will be eligible to register with Pearson VUE to take the state certification examination. The cost breakdown is as follows:
- $925 UWG Student / $995 Non-UWG Student
- Covers instruction, textbooks, requires supplies, clinical supervision, 1 set of scrubs, a stethoscope, and a name badge
Students are responsible for the following costs:
- Background check/Drug test – $78.50
- Professional Liability Insurance Policy – $40.00
- State Certification test fee – $112.00
- UWG Student: $1,155.50
- Non-UWG Student: $1,225.50
Kennesaw State University’s (Kennesaw, GA) CNA program prepares future Nursing Assistants for work in long-term care facilities and hospitals and helps them focus on enhancing patients’ lives. Over the past few years, rising admissions to nursing home facilities have created new jobs, along with scientific and technological advances that have increased the lifespan of the general population. Due to this expedited employment growth in the CNA position, career possibilities in the field are better than ever. KSU’s CNA program will help you with the following:
- Gather a patient’s vital signs
- Collect a patient’s data
- Learn important patient Nutrition information
- Discover the body systems and how to control disease and infection
- Learn to provide primary care, both physical and emotional
- Perform American Heart Association BLS and Heartsaver® First Aid training.
All of these skills are necessary for the competitive field that is CNAs.
The class is in-person at the KSU Center and will cost $1,899.00
At Georgia Allied Health Institute (Buford, GA), you will receive patient health care training, including proper body mechanics, blood pressure monitoring, vital signs monitoring, general cleanliness, and an introduction to body skills. Students will also learn skills in patient care and assisting patients in maintaining and improving their functional independence, all while observing patients’ rights along with the Georgia State certification as a Nurse Assistant.
In this course, you will also learn the following:
- How to perform basic first aid
- Certification in CPR/AED use
- Taking vital signs
- Proper body mechanics in bed
- Making, lifting, and turning patients
- Basic understanding of the anatomy and physiology of body systems
- Associate significant areas of the clinical laboratory with tests ordered to evaluate a patient’s condition or illness
- Hand washing and general cleanliness skills
- A basic understanding of all body systems.
The course will take 104 hours over six weeks to complete after demonstrating competence through an exam at the end of the course.
What is the job outlook for CNAs in Georgia?
The job outlook for accountants is excellent. As long as patients need to be taken care of, CNAs will have plenty of job options. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for CNAs is as fast as average. It’s projected to grow at a rate of 8% between 2020 and 2030, about as quickly as other professions. The BLS projects that about 118,500 new jobs for CNAs will open up between 2020 and 2030.
Are CNAs in demand in Georgia?
As of 2022, there are currently 37,120 CNAs employed in the State of Georgia, making an average of $30,600 or $14.71 an hour, with some CNAs making as much as $40,730. Certified Nursing Assistant is an in-demand job, with a growth rate of around 8% per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Find CNA jobs in Georgia Today
Certified Nursing Assistants enjoy exciting, rewarding careers with plenty of growth potential and a solid job outlook throughout the next decade. If you’re interested in becoming a CNA or would like help finding a job as a CNA, partnering with a staffing agency like BOS Medical can help you in your journey.
Our medical recruiters can match you with an organization—large, mid-size, or small, as well as corporations, businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and more—that lets you thrive in the profession. Contact us online to get in touch with a member of our recruitment team to learn more about our accountant staffing and recruiting services.