Few jobs in the healthcare field are as personally or professionally rewarding as becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA. Entering this career path requires specialized education, training and certification in order to be considered qualified for employment at local hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes.

High school graduates and adults choosing to change professions are often unsure where to embark on their education, or which degree program to choose. Learning how to begin your Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training is simple, and begins with choosing an accredited college or university that specializes in healthcare education.

Preparation for Work in a Fast Paced, Challenging Health Profession

CNA job training prepares graduates for the job responsibilities and duties faced every day while working in the medical profession. Close proximity and interaction build the patient-caregiver relationship, and often demands physical, social and emotional support. CNA’s provide basic care services, which can include grooming, feeding, and assist with mobility issues.

Also, drawing blood and use of medical equipment may be required to assist doctors and nurses with testing, treatment and diagnosis of illnesses. By completing a specific degree program through an accredited college or university, all of the skills needed to be successful in this occupation will be acquired. Also, expect your instructors to be qualified and experienced in the healthcare field, and are willing to pass their expertise to new students and prospective graduates.

Does CNA Training Online Offer an Advantage?

Online degree programs offer students an alternative to traditional academic education, offering flexible classes and curriculum. New students may be lured by the prospect of completing their CNA training online.

However, there are skills that can only be learned through hands on training, such as phlebotomy, CPR, and use of an EKG. State recognized certification programs also require the completion of clinical hours, and may not be offered through online institutions.

Online CNA training can benefit individuals who have been previously certified and simply need a refresher before renewing their certification. Also, this curriculum can be advantageous for those who want to update their skills and techniques and are currently working in the healthcare field.

A Comparison of Related Programs

If you are considering enrollment at a college or university, you will be faced with similar educational options – such as nursing degree programs. One of the most common questions relating to this educational choice is, “How long is CNA training versus completion of a Nursing program?” The time difference between the two programs is staggering, with CNA training only requiring 8 to 18 weeks of education, class and clinical time. Becoming a nurse can take a minimum of two years, and potentially longer depending on your work and personal schedule.

Time frame is another factor that should be taken under consideration, and can make a difference for individuals who are concerned with tuition costs. Earning a certificate and taking the exam can cost as little as $600, while two years of college tuition can cost thousands of dollars. This difference can mean being able to start a new career, and being stuck in your existing situation.

CNA Classes: About the Curriculum

Students who are enrolled (or planning to enroll) in a CNA program are often unsure what type of classes are required, and only expect them to be related to health and medical care. Because of the nature of the work does not vary between institutions, there is little variance in curriculum requirements. CNA classes typically consist of CPR training, Anatomy and Physiology, Infection Control, handling of blood borne pathogens, dealing with biomedical waste, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and skills needed for basic patient care (such as safe lifting of patients, personal care and how to deal with individual needs.)

Program Requirements

Individuals interested in pursuing a career in patient care will need to meet only a few requirements before they can enroll and be accepted into a CNA certification program. First, all prospective students must be 18 years of age or older, and have a high school diploma or GED. Educational institutions will also have a set of requirements that will vary, but frequently include proof of vaccination against infectious disease and testing for Hepatitis B.

An Alternative to College Programs

Unsure if the institution you wish to attend meets local, state and national criteria for certification? Or are you unable to find a program in your area? Attending Red Cross CNA training is the perfect solution to fix your educational dilemma. Students enrolled at the Red Cross are assured they are attending a state recognized program, which will prepare them for final testing and certification. Information, tuition costs and class details vary by chapter, but more information can be found by visiting their website Redcross.org.

Average Salary and Occupational Outlook

Compared to other career options in the healthcare field, this profession is currently experiencing tremendous growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth is expected to meet or exceed a rate of 20% between 2010 and 2020. A majority of the opportunities will be available in long-term care facilities, nursing homes and home health care because of the increasing elderly population.

Wages and compensation of a CNA salary are average when compared to similar career options such as phlebotomy or RNA’s. An entry level CNA can expect to earn an average of $11 per hour, but may be offered a higher rate in competitive markets or areas experiencing a shortage in qualified medical personnel. The median yearly rate as of 2012 is approximately $28,000, but can be higher. Variations in annual pay are often due to an individual’s location, years of experience, amount of overtime and company bonuses/incentives.

Working with patients on a one-to-one basis can be rewarding for those who enjoy helping others on both a physical and emotional level. Individuals in this field are offered a diverse range of experiences, from basic care to assisting with routine medical testing and procedures. For the right person, CNA (certified nursing assistant) training can open the door to a truly unique opportunity, and requires only a short educational commitment before your new career begins.

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