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Certified Nursing Assistant Career Guide

Updated: May 22, 2022



Some people will utilize their experience as a CNA to help them further their careers and become an LPN or RN. Surprisingly, many CNAs are already enrolled in nursing school and utilize this job as an opportunity to study more about the healthcare industry and obtain more real-world experience and expertise. Others become CNAs to see if they want to go on to the next stage of their healthcare careers.


 

Overview

Under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), a certified nursing assistant (CNA) assists patients with activities of daily living and other healthcare requirements (LPN). Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Assistants (PCAs), and Nurse's Aids are all terms used to describe CNAs.

With Achieve Test Prep's "Nursing Test-Out Program," Certified Nursing Assistants may save up to 50% on tuition and books and become a Registered Nurse (RN) 'faster' than regular universities! The CNA to RN program assists CNAs in obtaining their ADN and RN licenses by allowing them to test out of various necessary courses. Because this form of non-bridge nursing degree cannot be completed entirely through online coursework, nursing courses must be taken at a local college. Before opting for a "test out" option, students should confirm that their chosen nursing school accepts "testing out" in place of needed courses. CNA certification is required for all candidates.



 

CNA vs MA vs LPN

While there are some similarities between certified nursing assistants and medical assistants (MAs), such as working with patients and delivering patient care, the two healthcare vocations should not be confused.


Both jobs help physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with treatments, surgeries, and testing. Medical assistants are more involved in direct patient care, whereas nursing assistants are more involved in patient assessment, evaluation, and aiding doctors with patient care and treatment. Nursing assistants can only do certain job-related tasks that are prescribed by their status of employment.


A license and passing a state-mandated exam are required for LPNs, also known as Licensed Practical Nurses. CNAs, on the other hand, just need to earn a certification to work. LPNs frequently take programs comparable to those taken by RNs in order to learn more about health care and the human body. Furthermore, LPNs are capable of doing activities and procedures that CNAs are not, such as placing a peripheral intravenous catheter.

Tasks and Responsibilities

CNAs can aid in the smooth operation of a unit, particularly for nurses who have numerous medically difficult patients. A CNA's responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Repositioning or turning patients

  • Putting together materials for the RN or MD

  • Obtaining vital signs in accordance with procedure

  • Answering calls/bells from patients

  • Patients are bathed

  • Information acquired must be documented.

  • Feeding, measuring, and recording the food and beverage consumption of patients

  • Hair combing, shaving, nail care, and tooth brushing

  • Room cleaning and bed linens

  • Purchasing supplies

  • Getting admissions rooms ready

  • assisting medical procedures

  • Wound treatment

  • Assisting patients with bowel movements

Direct tasks will vary depending on the nurse's level of need and the place of work. Individual states regulate CNA tasks, and it is the individual's responsibility to verify that they are following state rules and not doing activities outside of their scope of practice.

CNAs can work in inpatient hospitals, but they're more frequent in long-term care institutions, rehabilitation institutes, and adult daycare centers. They are rarely used in outpatient offices or clinics. Nursing assistants are required in all of these settings to function as a contact between the nurse and the patient.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this occupation is predicted to increase at an annual pace of 8% from 2020 to 2030, which is substantially faster than the overall job growth rate.


 

Salary

According to the United States, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensed nursing aides earned an average annual pay of $30,830 in 2020, or $14.82 per hour.

It's vital to keep in mind that this varies based on the context and location. CNAs working for the government, such as at a VA hospital, had the highest median pay of $37,240, while CNAs working in home health care earned the lowest median pay of $29,210.

Highest Paying States for CNAs (Annual Average)

  • Alaska - $42,500

  • New York - $40,620

  • California - $39,280

  • Hawaii - $38,650

  • Massachusetts - $37,160


 

Schedules

Nursing assistants can work a wide range of schedules, depending on the demands of the business. Some people work a variety of shifts throughout the week, while others have a regular schedule and are paid annually. Hourly employees can receive overtime compensation, however salaried staff would have to debate it with the hiring committee. The demands of the hospital and the offer contract affect an individual's earning potential.

How to Become a CNA


A state-approved training program for certified nursing assistants is required. Community colleges, high schools, vocational or technical institutions, and local hospitals are all good places to look for these programs.


Because programs differ, it is critical that prospective students conduct comprehensive study to select one that best meets their needs.


Prior to application and admission, most programs have identical prerequisites that must be met. The American Red Cross offers a popular CNA training program that lasts 4-8 weeks depending on class size and location around the country. The following are prerequisites:

  • Attendance at an informative session about orientation

  • TABE (reading and math testing) OR high school diploma or GED verification

  • Prior to enrollment, the Red Cross conducts a criminal background check.

  • Completion of the Red Cross physical form as well as a tuberculosis test


With Achieve Test Prep's "Nursing Test-Out Program," Certified Nursing Assistants may save up to 50% on tuition and books and become a Registered Nurse (RN) 'faster' than regular universities! The CNA to RN program assists CNAs in obtaining their ADN and RN licenses by allowing them to test out of various necessary courses. Because this form of non-bridge nursing degree cannot be completed entirely through online coursework, nursing courses must be taken at a local college. Before opting for a "test out" option, students should confirm that their chosen nursing school accepts "testing out" in place of needed courses. CNA certification is required for all candidates.

From CNA to Other Nursing Positions


Certification as a certified nursing assistant does not automatically lead to additional nursing degrees. Indeed, it will only give practical knowledge and experience, which may be useful in gaining admission to an LPN or RN school. Otherwise, admittance into the respective LPN or RN programs is required.


Being a CNA or having experience working as a CNA may make certain portions of an LPN or RN program simpler if you've been admitted. You'll have gained knowledge and experience through on-the-job training, but experience seldom cuts down on time spent in those programs. Having the experience and healthcare contacts, on the other side, may help with job placement following graduation.


 

Outlook


California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania currently have the largest number of certified nursing assistants employed. As the elderly population continues to retire and relocate to warmer climates, growth is likely to accelerate. Check out the nurse.org job board to discover what CNA jobs are available in your region right now.

Certified nursing assistants are in great demand right now, and that need is expected to grow for the next decade. As the baby boomer population matures, there will be a greater need for long-term nursing care facilities. This demographic, which is more prone to suffer from dementia and other neurologic abnormalities, will require nursing assistance.

Nursing assistant employment is expected to expand by 8% between 2020 and 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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