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How to Become a CNA (certified nursing assistant)

How to Become a CNA

Have you thought about becoming a nurse but didn’t feel you could do all the coursework that is required.  Then perhaps you should consider becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA).  CNAs are in great demand because they provide How to Become a CNAsupplemental services to the nursing staff.  You’ll have an opportunity to work in nursing homes, clinics, hospitals and possibly the military.  Your job will be to help patients bathe, move around, eat, dress, take vital signs, assist with medical equipment and bathroom duties.

You’ll need to enroll in a nursing assistant program.  If you are still in high school, you may find that your high school offers courses in this area.  However, it is more common that the coursework would be available in vocational schools, technical schools and junior colleges.  Sometimes you can find on- the-job training programs in hospitals and nursing homes.  Nevertheless, it always a good idea to have your high school diploma or GED and have taken your college entrance exam (ACT/SAT) and take your nursing assistant program in college.  This way it is easy to become certified as long as you have passed all your requirements.

Bear in mind mind that you will have to pass a background check before you can practice as a CNA.  You will also be tested for drugs and this might be done when you apply to the program or perhaps when you are being certified.  This varies by state.  Either way be prepared for this.

Most CNA programs take a few weeks and in some cases a month or two depending on the school.  You are required to take 75 clock hours, however some schools add other coursework they feel will be useful to you in certain areas.  Once you have completed your CNA program, you are now ready to take your certification exam.  Make sure you take plenty of time to practice for this exam.  The exam is not long (55 to 70 multiple choice questions) and you’ll have to take a clinical exam (hands-on-portion) as well.  Concentrate on safety during the clinical exam as this is what is most important.  Once you pass your certification exam, you will be certified.

Next on the agenda is to obtain your CNA state license.  Keep in mind that each state has it own rules and regulations, however most states require that a nurse’s aide carry an active license to practice.   Once you fulfill your requirements here, you are ready to seek employment.  Try applying to clinics, hospitals and nursing homes in your area.  Check with these institutions to see if they require a current drug screen and if necessary have one done.

Once you have some experience under your belt as a CNA, you might reconsider that nursing degree you were shy of before.  It’s just something to think about.


Nursing assistant
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Susan Ardizzoni

Susan Ardizzoni

Professor Susan Ardizzoni

Susan has studied at the University of Texas Medical Branch Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston, Texas and the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Ph.D. in Biology with a major in Neuroscience and minors in physics and mathematics. Area of research is in brain transplantation and behavior testing with twenty years of teaching experience. Fields of interest include the physical basis of memory and learning, brain repair and regeneration as well as neuro-development. As an educator, has taught thousands of students at the college level in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology, marinebiology, nutrition, communications, radiography, ultrasound, mathematics and physics. She enjoys reading current scientific literature and simplifying the material making it readily available to the public.
Susan Ardizzoni

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