What is a CNA? The acronym stands for “Certified Nursing Assistant”, or “Certified Nurse Assistant”. Nursing assistants work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health centers, even personal homes. Wherever there is a need for personal medical care and assistance, CNA’s are often the one’s who perform the most basic needs for patients, young and old alike. They often work under the supervision of a nurse. Since aides have extensive daily contact with each patient, they are key to providing vital information on the patients’ conditions to the nurse.
Within the vast scope of health care careers, one of the fundamental underlying functions is the area of direct care giving. These professionals are often classified as Certified Nursing Assistants, Nurse’s Aides, Patient Care Technicians, Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, along with many other titles, depending on the work environment and the region.
Some of the many functions a CNA performs:
- * Taking Vital signs such as Blood pressure, pulse, etc.
- * Range of Motion Exercises, as prescribed by physical therapy.
- * Dressing (according to patients’ needs, ranging from minimal assistance to totally dependent)
- * Feeding (serving meals, physically feeding patients who are unable to do so themselves)
- * Bathing (bed baths, tub baths, showers)
- * Catheter care (emptying, upkeep of Intake & Output sheets when neccessary)
- * Making beds and keeping the patients’ rooms and belongings neat and organized
- * Documentation and record keeping of patient activity, medications, vitals, etc.
- * Assisting patients with movement (ambulation)
- * Report all changes, physical and mental, of the patients to the nurse
How does one become a CNA?
In order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you’ll need to take and pass the state CNA exam. Training programs to become a CNA can be found through community colleges, hospitals and medical facilities. Many states also have Red Cross CNA class. Classes are generally taught by a registered nurse and the length of training depends on the program. Depending upon the particular facility, classes may run for two weeks, with a month or more of hands on training to follow. The classes offer the basics of what to expect with this job, however, this is a career in which skill levels and confidence dramatically improve once the nursing assistant becomes involved in the daily routine of actual caregiving.
The CNA test is made up of two parts, written and clinical. You will most likely be asked to bring someone with you to the test who will act as a ‘model’ for you to demonstrate your clinical skills on. The written portion of the test is mostly common sense.
The qualities necessary to be a Certified Nursing Assistant are very similar to the qualities needed in nursing. A CNA should be caring, patient, willing and able to do some physically strenuous activities. Most importantly, they should have the desire to help.
With the chronic staffing shortage in recent years, a vast majority of nursing assistants find themselves in the challenging position of trying to provide good quality care to far to many patients at once, due to short staffing problems being experienced around the world in this field. As a result, the turnover rate for nursing assistants is quite high – and this is not an easy job to begin with. Singlehandedly doing the work of two or more people proves overwhelming to many, and they leave the field.