CNAs play an essential role in the care of the hospital, nursing home, and residential care patients, helping them with basic tasks such as moving, eating, dressing, and keeping clean. They also assist nurses and other healthcare professionals by collecting vital indicators such as temperature and blood pressure.
While CNAs do not offer medical treatment, they must be knowledgeable enough in the field to identify when a nurse or other clinician is needed to evaluate a scenario in which the patient’s health is in danger.
Taking classes to become a certified nurse assistant (CNA) is an excellent way to begin a career in nursing. Whether you are straight out of high school or contemplating a career change, a job as a CNA provides a steady income, exposure to the nursing profession, and a rewarding career helping patients and their families.
Before enrolling in a free CNA training program, consider what to anticipate and learn during the CNA program.
What to Expect from a CNA Program
CNA Program Duration
The duration of CNA programs varies depending on the school’s offers and state regulations. Some programs may be finished in as short as two weeks of 10- to 12-hour days.
Most sessions last four to twelve weeks, with meetings taking place daily or on certain days and for fewer hours each session. Many programs appeal to working people by providing courses in the evenings or on weekends.
In-Person Hours vs. Online Hours
Most states need a specific number of in-person hours, although others enable you to finish a portion of your training online. Individual programs decide whether to provide just on-campus courses or a mixed approach. You should determine what type of learner you are before choosing a program.
Hands-on learning, often known as “practicals” or “clinicals,” is an essential component of CNA training. Many states demand a certain amount of clinical hours before taking the certification test.
Inside the classroom or skills lab, you’ll usually get some fundamental clinical training. In-class training would concentrate on skills like vital sign taking, which are simple to acquire by collaborating with classmates and must be practiced before working with patients.
Other skills, such as bathing in bed, helping with activities of daily living (ADLs), and observing nurse directions, are best performed in a clinical setting.
Most CNA schools will collaborate with local professional nursing institutions to provide students the chance to practice skills on actual patients in real-world settings. Your clinical experience will be supervised by a registered nurse (RN) who has received clinical site supervisor training.
Most states have regulations governing CNA instructor credentials. The majority of states require teachers to be experienced, licensed nurses with nursing assistant training certification.
Your teachers should be familiar with the patient groups you may meet throughout your clinical and professional experiences. Many instructors engage in this area because they like teaching, assisting new students in discovering their interests, and remembering what it was like to begin a career in healthcare.
State regulations for training and licensing vary, but most states mandate courses to be recognized or authorized by a regulatory body. The majority also need a certain number of classroom hours and a certain number of clinical hours.
Please keep in mind that if you relocate, some states let you move your license from another area without extra training or retaking the test, while others do not. You may obtain complete information from your state’s board of nursing.
Certification Exam Preparation
The last step in finishing your CNA training is to take your certification test. Schools will likely work hard to train you for the exam because they want to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of their pupils passed the exam on the first attempt.
The majority of programs include study advice, practice tests, and group study sessions. If you are ever unsure about a subject or need more help, please do not hesitate to contact your teachers.
What You’ll Learn in CNA Program
Some occupations teach you duties on the job, while CNAs learn them in a nursing aide training program. Your registered nurse teacher will give modules explaining each duty, and you will follow alongside your textbook.
Some of the tasks you will learn in class may involve but are not limited to washing, dressing, and feeding patients. You will learn how to assist patients in walking safely through a process called ambulation.
You also learn which activities, as determined by the nursing board, you are not permitted to do, such as injections or drug administration. After each module, CNA teachers give quizzes and exams to check information transfer.
Terminology and Equipment
During your first day on the job, you will be required to execute specialized duties such as collecting patient vital signs and transporting patients to wheelchairs. You will also be required to understand what a nurse is saying when they ask questions or explains duties using medical language.
Throughout your CNA training, you will study and be tested on medical terms to equip you for work. In the classroom laboratory, your teacher also teaches you how to handle medical devices such as a blood pressure monitor and gauge, put up and dismantle wheelchairs, and modify hospital beds.
Nursing boards require CNA certification applicants to undergo hands-on training, often known as clinicals, in a licensed medical facility. The majority of CNA clinicals occur in nursing homes, but the location ultimately relies on the health care facilities with which your CNA school is associated.
You must wear a uniform and work with the facility’s employees as if you were an employee throughout the hands-on part of the training. Your CNA teacher will provide you a list of necessary hands-on activities that you should accomplish on-site to finish the course.
Where Should You Go to Learn the Trade?
Nursing homes, nursing employment agencies, hospitals, state schools, the Red Cross nurse assistant program, and private nurse training schools all provide CNA classes that are recognized by your state board of nursing.
Prices for training courses vary considerably, so it’s a good idea to compare programs in your region. Parents of high school students interested in nursing should urge them to participate in their school district’s curriculum, if one exists, to get a head start on their career planning.