You completed training, passed the CNA test and found a job. Does this mean that your medical education is finished? Absolutely not. All states require certified nursing assistants to complete a specific amount of continued education (CE) hours per year to remain active in the state nursing registry.
The required hours vary by state. Some states may require 12 hours a year, while others set the standards at 24 hours. Check with your state’s nursing board regarding their CE requirements.
CE courses are offered through a variety of options such as: your current employer, local community colleges, your state’s nursing board and through numerous private vendors. When choosing a private company, make sure that they are accredited with your state.
The topics for CE courses are offered in subjects that are relevant to your duties as a CNA, such as:
- Current clinical methods
- Emotional support for the elderly and chronically ill
- Medical record documentation
- HIV/AIDS training
- Medical error prevention
- Communication with cognitively impaired patients
- Resident rights
This is just a small sample of some of the available courses for CNAs. Continuing education courses will help you maintain a high standard quality of care and can help keep you updated on current trends in healthcare.
Free Sources for CEs
Many members of the healthcare community pay fees to obtain CEs and simply consider it the cost of doing business; however, there are other options. If you know where to look, there are several low-cost and even free opportunities for continuing education. Before you read this you should read our previous article on free CNA inservices
Institution Education Departments
Many hospitals and nursing homes will develop CE courses through their education department. These CEs are usually free to employees. Check with your institution’s educational department to see what type of program they may offer.
Some employers make contributions to education funds. These funds frequently offer free continuing education courses for CNAs. An example available for CNAs who work in Los Angeles is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) UHW-West & Joint Employer Education Fund. You must be employed by one of the companies affiliated with this union to qualify.
These free courses are specifically designed for CNAs. Examples of recent courses include a class on safe patient care and stress/end-of-life care. Each one of these courses provided eight contact hours.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mission is to develop sound public health policies, promote healthy behavior as well as provide leadership and training. As part of this goal the CDC offers free continuing education for members of the medical community.
Courses in HIV education/treatment and other CEs are available on the website: http://www2a.cdc.gov/ce/availableactivities.asp. Take a look at the site to see if any available courses might fit your needs.
Armed Forces Service
If you are a working CNA and a member of the military on active duty for at least six months, some states will not require you to take in-service CEs that year. This exemption also applies to CNAs that are spouses of military members who were caused to be absent due to their spouse’s military duties. Check with your state’s board of nursing to see if you qualify.
Some companies, such as Johnson & Johnson as well as certain colleges will offer free CE courses. The majority of courses provide one hour; however, these units add up quickly. Here is a list of colleges that currently offer free courses:
- UCLA Health System
- Georgetown School of Nursing
- Kaplan University School of Nursing
- Walden University
- Chamberlain College of Nursing
To find out more information and to obtain a list of current Novell courses go to: http://ce.nurse.com/FreeCE.aspx. It’s up to you to investigate your options for free continuing education courses. These examples provide a starting point; check with the websites frequently for updated information.