For those who are considering the health care field, becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an excellent choice. This is because a CNA only takes four to six months of training and the program itself is quite affordable. For those who possess a compassionate nature and look forward to caring for others, this is a great career choice. In addition, the demand for this profession is only going to increase over the foreseeable future as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age.
Of course, in order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, you must select the right accredited program that meets your needs, fits your budget, and provides you with the career choices to help land the position you want. The good news is that there are many programs across the nation that meet these expectations. However, there are still some schools that are better than others and you will need to know which ones work best for you.
Starting Your Search
Your search starts with what you want to achieve, where you want to work, and the budget you have to complete the program. Again, most programs are highly affordable and there are support systems in place to help you financially if needed. However, you will need to know what your goals are in becoming a CNA and where you are willing to go to work.
If you plan on working in your community, it will limit the opportunities that you would otherwise enjoy. This is because the demand for nursing assistants varies across the country and you might be in a location where there is an oversupply. That makes it more difficult to land the position you may want at a local hospital, clinic, nursing home, and the like. However, you may not have the ability to travel because of family or other obligations. So, take into account the places in your community that hire CNAs to see if the demand is there.
Plus, by becoming a nursing assistant you are starting on the journey to becoming an LPN or RN if you so desire. Keep in mind that this type of career advancement means more opportunities and more money, but it also takes two to four years of education, training, and passing the certification before you can advance to a higher level. However, even if you are happy with being a nursing assistant there are still plenty of opportunities out there for you.
Now that you know what you want to achieve and how far you are willing to travel, the next step is finding the right school that meets your needs.
Tips to Find the Best CNA School
There are a number of tips and hints that will help you locate the right school that offers the training you need. The best way to go about finding the right school starts with recommendations from family or friends who are also nursing assistants. Good recommendations give you a great place to start in your search, but they should not be the only schools you consider. Once you have narrowed down your choices to just a few schools that seem equal in their services, then going with the one recommended is advisable.
Once you have taken into account the recommendations made by those who are nursing assistants, here are some other tips to help narrow down the choices.
This is the most important attribute of any school that offers a certified nursing assistant program. If it is not accredited, then you should avoid taking courses at the school. You will be wasting your time and not be prepared for the state certification course that is required for you to become a nursing assistant. So, eliminate all schools that are not accredited or have well-known issues that prevent you from getting the education and training needed to pass the state examination.
State Nursing Board
The next step is consulting with your state’s nursing board which is the authority that oversees the licensing of nursing assistants. They will offer advice as to the schools which are in your location. At this time, you can also ask about the license requirement for nursing assistant schools along with enrollment information. Basically, the state nursing board will provide you with a list of accredited schools that meet their minimum criteria for licensing nursing assistants. They will probably not have any personal insight as to which school is the best, but they can provide you with the right list from which you can start making more intense searches to find the school that is best for you.
Complete Credit Hours
In terms of CNA training, you’ll want to choose a location that provides complete credit hours. This way when you complete the training you’ll gain the eligibility needed for being allowed to take the certification test in your state. All states require that you undergo training in becoming a nursing assistant which must be verified before you can take the certification test.
That training will be defined as credit hours of which a minimal amount will be needed for you to take the test. For example, in Texas you need just 75 credit hours before qualifying to take their certification test while California requires 160 hours. So, be sure that the location you choose offers credit hours for the training that they provide which can be verified by the state. That will save you considerable headaches when it comes to getting your certification.
There are many different types of courses that you will need to take when becoming a certified nursing assistant that include anatomy, biology, nutrition, psychology, and more. There are also non-medical courses such as the arts or perhaps business administration that you will take as well. While they may not seem relevant at first, they will actually help expand your viewpoint so that become well equipped for handling the many different scenarios of being a certified nursing assistant.
Talk to Hospitals & Nursing Homes
Both of these institutions offer CNA programs that meet the requirements as set out by the state. In addition, they are some of the best sources to get the training you need because they offer real-life experience and you can actually apply for a job once you get your license. For those who want to work for a specific hospital or nursing home, this may be the best approach in getting the training needed as you can apply for the job once the license is yours.
In addition, getting your training at hospitals or nursing homes is often less expensive than going to a formal school. In fact, there are some hospitals that offer free training, so all you need is the time to attend and you will get what is needed to obtain a license. Plus, you get to work with real-life doctors and nurses that provides invaluable training to becoming a nursing assistant. Keep in mind that hospitals that provide free training will obligate you to work for them afterwards, at least for a certain period of time.
Apart from hospitals and nursing homes, the Red Cross is noted for their high quality, well respected nursing assistant training programs which can be found across the US. These educational programs are designed to meet the minimum requirements of the federal government as well as states so that you can obtain your certification which will be recognized. The programs provided by the Red Cross are low-cost and offer a great way to get the training needed so you can become a certified nursing assistant in your community or in other locations across the country.
Select a Local School
The main reason to select a school that is within driving distance of your home is to save money. By not having to pay a lot of commuting or living expenses, you can save considerably on the cost of going to school. If you are accepted at a hospital or nursing home that offers free training, then your expenses will be minimal. For those living in rural locations, local hospitals may be the only sound choice when it comes to getting the training you need. In addition, many local universities offer summer courses that offer good training at a low cost. So, by going with a local school or hospital, you can save a considerable amount of money.
Once you have obtained your license, the education process does not end because your qualifications will need to be updated over the years. Every so often as dictated by the state you will need to qualify again for your licensing which means that continuing the education process will be part of your job. New programs, techniques, and information will need to be processed and taken into account when you renew your license. In fact, many states offer annual test to certify nursing assistants, so it pays to be prepared. By enrolling in a CNA school that offers continual education, you can take a few classes here and there to stay updated and pass your license renewal with ease.
By taking all of this advice into account, you can become a certified nursing assistant quickly and enjoy the benefits of the work.