Like any other area of specialization in the health care industry, education is the key element to starting a career. Becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) involves a specified period of time in the classroom and supervised training in a clinical setting. But without the drive and determination to help others, excellence as a nurse assistant will never be achieved and a career will prove short-lived. Fulfilling the educational requirements to become certified as a nurse assistant provides the necessary qualifications for employment, but having compassion for residents and patients is what will bring the CNA a greater level of personal satisfaction and success in the field. Certified nurse assistants are foundational to society because health care is something every person requires at some point.
With an increase in the aging population, the need for CNA’s is growing each day. Programs are available in every state in educational settings such as universities, community colleges, and technical institutes. Because a significant need exists for more certified nurse assistants to be active in the workforce, health care facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, and other types of residential care facilities are now able to provide onsite programs. In many cases, this training a student receives will be without cost apart from supplies and fees for the certification exam to be taken upon completion of the training. Sometimes students will actually be compensated with an increase in their hourly rate after certification is achieved. In addition to these options, nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross and government affiliated organizations like the Job Corps also provide this training.
Whether participating in an instructional program in a formal educational setting or within a health care institution, the state where the program resides will oversee the program, determining everything from the amount of hours in the classroom to how many hours are required in a supervised clinical setting. This is an important component to the training because students who are provided with hands-on experience with patients and residents are able to overcome the basic fears encountered in real situations where more independence is to be expected of the professional.
Depending on the state you reside in, the clock hours required for training range from 75 to 175 hours. Of these hours, a certain quantity is required in the classroom and others for training in the clinical setting. The requirements of each state vary and you will need to check with your state’s Board of Nursing or Department of Health to ascertain these requirements. Be aware that programs that claim to train nurse assistants are not necessarily approved programs by the state they are in. You will need to inquire with the school or health care facility to see if they are offering a state approved program that provides ample instruction to sit for the certification exam, or contact that state’s Board of Nursing or Department of Health directly. These offices often provide lists of state-approved programs so that students do not spend their time and money on programs that will not qualify them for work in the field.
Once the student’s required classroom and clinical training is complete, students are then recommended to sit for the state’s required certification exam prior to being employed as a certified nurse assistant. Every state’s have their own certification exams and requirements, though the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 requires each state to establish state-approved nurse assistant training programs and to establish minimum requirements for competency. Upon completion of training, all nurse assistant trainees must pass a state exam within 120 days to become certified to work in a nursing home.
Each state must provide a certification exam that includes a written or oral component and a skills-demonstration component. Candidates for nurse assistant certification must pass both components before a state can enter their name in their registry of nurse assistants who have successfully completed their training requirements. States also use their nurse assistant registry to help nursing homes and other employers ensure that potential employees meet Federal and State requirements for employment, and that no adverse actions exist that would prohibit the hiring of a certain individual including known incidences of abuse or neglect by existing nurse assistants.
Certification exams are given in a variety of approved settings, depending on the state in which you reside. In many cases, D & S Diversified Technologies and Pearson are officially authorized to conduct these exams and then report outcomes to the respective state boards. Inclusion in the state nurse assistant registries is dependent on the successful outcome of these exams.