If you are interested in the medical field but have no desire to go to school for 8 years, becoming a nurse’s assistant might be a good career path for you. This rewarding career will allow you to get your foot in the door of a thriving field that saves people’s lives. Becoming a nurse’s assistant does not require any higher education; however, you will find it easier to get a job if you acquire a Nursing Assistant Certification. This requires 75-100 hours of training and a competency test given by the state.
There are a few prerequisites to entering a training program. First of all, you must have a high school diploma or GED in order to begin a training program. Also, make sure to “keep your nose clean”; background checks and drug tests will be administered when you enter a nurse’s assistant training program and work place. If not already required, consider taking classes strong in science and communication, in high school. Both of these are invaluable resources in any medical career.
If you decide to become a CNA (certified nurse’s assistant), make sure you are aware of the fine print in any contract you have to sign, in order to enter a training program. Many healthcare facilities require that you commit to working for them a specified amount of time, after acquiring your certification. If this is a problem for you, Red Cross, colleges, and online training programs are also good alternatives to local healthcare facilities.
There are some benefits to becoming a nurse’s assistant, as opposed to a nurse, CNA courses only last between two to six weeks (as opposed to the two to four years, in nursing school, required for RNs). The course itself only prepares students for work as a CNA, so if you are looking to become a nurse, and don’t mind the extra schooling, you might consider going straight into nursing school instead. It is fairly easy to find CNA programs in your area or online, but before committing to any of them, make sure that they are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accredited Commission (NLNAC). This will prevent your valuable time and money from being wasted.
After the training program, you will be required to take a competency test. The exam contains a multiple choice section and a practical section, where you administer three to five CNA skills on a patient. There are practice tests online, which offer multiple choice questions and tips for the practical section.
Once you have finished your training and competency test, you will need to take the state exam to officially become certified. This process can take three to four months and, though highly recommended, is not necessarily required to get a job. It is important that you research what the requirements are for your area, as well, because every state requires a different amount of training, testing, and time.
Now that you know how to become a CNA, it is important to know what you will actually be doing:
- Confidentiality: One of the most important parts of any medical job, is the preservation of patient’s privacy, in accordance to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Be familiar with medical privacy laws and make sure you abide by them at all times.
- Empathy: Often times, when people are checked into health care facilities, they are at an extremely stressful and difficult point in their lives. They may be disabled, lack mobility, suffer from memory loss, complain a lot, refuse treatment, or exhibit a multitude of other problems that make them hard to treat. In order to be a good CNA and do your job effectively, empathy and respect for how the patient must be feeling is a must!
- Cleaning and Sterilizing: Carrying out nurses orders, often involves administering medication and medical tests on patients. In order to preserve the patient’s, and your own, safety is to ensure that everything is sterilized properly. This could mean washing your hands, wearing gloves, washing the patient, cleaning the work area, keeping the equipment sterilized, etc.
The average pay for CNAs depends largely on their experience, place of employment, and training. Obviously, if you do not get certified before finding a job, your pay is likely to be much lower. Typically, those who work in hospitals will make more than CNA’s who work out of nursing homes. The national average salary for those who have just received a certification is ten dollars an hour; this can go up to about fifteen, as you gain experience.
With a little training, hard work, and love for the job, working as a CNA can help you embark on a great career in medicine.
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With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.
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