Deciding to enter a Certified Nurse Assistant training class is a big decision. Oftentimes, people question whether or not it is the right choice for them. “ Am I smart enough to be a nursing assistant?” “Do I have the ability to be a good healthcare worker?” “Will I like it?”
Before making the decision to enter a nurse assistant program, it is important to ensure you have met the prerequisites. Many states require you to have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. You can check with your state’s department of health to see what the requirement is for you. Some programs have an age requirement also. Check with the program coordinator.
Nurse assistant training can range from 2 weeks to half a year. Some vocational schools offer the program on a part time basis. Many nursing homes offer the program and will require you to fulfill an employment obligation after successfully completing the course. These nursing homes usually cover the cost of the course and the testing. Some colleges do a semester long training at well. These courses are for a fee and the cost of testing is usually the responsibility of the student. Some colleges have financial assistance or scholarships available to offset the cost. It is important to consider the following before choosing a program: cost of the program, length of study, teaching style, and size of the class. Knowing your finances and learning style before choosing a program will help guarantee your success.
Training courses will have a portion of the learning experience in the classroom and a portion that is a clinical training. Clinical training can be in a lab setting or on the job. Many programs will team you up with an experienced C.N.A. for part of your training and increase your work load gradually until you are comfortable doing a full assignment.
Nurse assisting is not a glorious job. At times it can be physically demanding and emotionally taxing. If you are entering this line of work thinking it will be easy and glamorous, then you may be surprised. Although it can be a busy job, with good organizational skills, you can easily get through a shift and still find it enjoyable and rewarding. Anyone who has difficulty with organization should bring this to the attention of the classroom teacher. Some personal skills that are useful to a nurse assistant are: cheerfulness, caring, organized, helpful, flexible, and energetic. If you possess these, you are off to an excellent start! If you do not, don’t worry. These are skills that can be developed with time.
If you have always had an interest in healthcare, or if you have always wanted to care for others, nurse assisting is a great job that can be a lifelong career or a stepping stone to many other healthcare careers. Many nurses, doctors, therapists, and dieticians once worked as C.N.A.s. It is a wonderful basis for so many things. I was once a C.N.A. and would not trade that time for anything!
Expert Contribution by: Nicolle Wagner, RN, BSN, RAC-CT