A CNA or certified nurses assistant is someone “who cares for physically or mentally ill, injured, disabled, or infirm individuals in hospitals, nursing care facilities, and mental health settings.” -[BLS.gov] In most cases CNA’s care for elderly persons who can no longer care for themselves. “They often help patients to eat, dress, and bathe. They also answer calls for help, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds, and tidy up rooms. Aides sometimes are responsible for taking a patient’s temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, or blood pressure. They also may help provide care to patients by helping them get out of bed and walk, escorting them to operating and examining rooms, or providing skin care. Some aides help other medical staff by setting up equipment, storing and moving supplies, and assisting with some procedures.”-[BLS.gov] As this description of CNA duties given by the Bureau of labor statistics states, aids will assist nurses in setting up medical equipment, monitoring patients and performing some minor medical procedures.
It is for this reason that persons who wish to become CNA’s must complete hands on medical training at a state recognized facility. There is a minimum of 75 hours that must be completed at a hospital or other recognized training facility and a state exam must be passed in order to obtain a CNA license, which will allow one to practice CNA work at all hospitals and care facilities in that respective state. Usually CNA training is completed in between 6-12 weeks. “Nursing and psychiatric aide training is offered in high schools, vocational-technical centers, some nursing care facilities, and some community colleges. Courses cover body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, communication skills, and resident rights.” -[BLS.gov]
Job out look for CNA’s is good as stated on the BLS.gov website “Numerous job openings and excellent job opportunities are expected. Employment for nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants will grow 19 percent, faster than the average for all occupations, predominantly in response to the long-term care needs of an increasing elderly population.”-[BLS.gov] careers in health care are growing and job stability is and important factor in an unstable economy.
The starting pay for CNA’s can be modest but the position offers a better salary than other jobs where comparable time is spent training. “data from May 2010 says the mean annual wage of CNA’s in the U.S. is 25,110.” -[BLS.gov]
“The most common type of advancement for CNA’s are licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and medical assistant.” -[BLS.gov] Although there is additional training and schooling that must be completed to advance to these positions, performing CNA duties can provide great experience and networking opportunities within the healthcare field.
If your personal goal is to work in health care becoming a certified nurses assistant may be the best place to start. It will allow you to experience the health care environment before committing to the training that is required to become a registered nurse. Being a CNA provides an excellent starting point, with minimal training needed to begin and a respectable starting salary.