Healthcare Careers: Certified Nursing Assistant

Healthcare Careers: Certified Nursing Assistant
Did you know that you could be a certified nursing assistant in just three months? Learn about programs at community colleges that can have you trained for a nursing career in just weeks.

Do you have a passion for caring for others? Are you looking for a career that you can get started in relatively quickly? Certified Nursing Assistant programs are cropping up around the country, thanks to stimulus funds designed to get people into the healthcare field as quickly as possible. In as little as three months, you can move from student at a community college to a fully certified nursing assistant, working in a hospital, nursing care center or home setting.

While these programs are not new, additional funding from the stimulus package has allowed many community colleges to increase the number of certified nursing classes they offer. This means even more students can get on the fast track to a healthcare career that is much more stable than many other industries today. The short amount of time in school also means tuition savings for those who want to explore new career opportunities, but don't have many extra funds to do so.

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified nursing assistants work in a variety of settings, offering hands-on care to patients under the supervision of RNs and other medical staff. In some cases, CNAs may help patients eat, bathe or perform other daily tasks. Some might also take patient vitals, including temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. They may assist the rest of the medical staff by moving equipment, setting up supplies or assisting with some procedures.

This video describes the nursing assistant certification program at Bunker Hill Community College.

CNAs spend much of their days on their feet, and they must be prepared to perform a variety of tasks at every single shift. While the work can be demanding, it is also rewarding, and job security is not usually an issue in this line of work.

The average salary for a CAN is just over $11 per hour, but those with additional experience or education may make much more. CNAs can also continue their training to become RNs if they desire.

How to Become a CNA

To begin a CNA program, you must first have a high school diploma or GED. The next step is to find a certified nursing assistant program at a community college in your area. Many colleges today are offering such programs, due to the huge need for CNAs, as well as the stimulus funds that have been provided to many community colleges just for this purpose.

During your CNA training, you will probably need to complete on-site training at a local health care facility, as well as your coursework. Once you receive certification in your field, you will be entered on your state's registry of nurse aids, allowing you to work in a wide range of venues. According to the Nursing Assistant Guides website, it is a good idea to check with your state on their requirements for licensure and certification before choosing your CNA program.

Colleges offering CNA Programs

There are numerous colleges offering good nursing assistant certification programs across the country, and many can be completed in just a few weeks. We have just three examples listed here:

  • In North Carolina, Johnston Community College is just one of the institutions offering a quick certification program for nursing assistants. The Herald reports that after just three months of schooling, graduates of the program are prepared to work in nursing homes or as personal caregivers. The course is also a pre-requisite to a nursing degree, so students can easily continue their education to advance their career in nursing.
  • In Michigan, Lansing Community College offers a certification program to work as a nursing assistant. Students can either opt for the night program, which lasts 16 weeks, or the day school, which can be completed in as little as four and a half weeks. This allows adults to make a career change, even as they continue to work in their current job.
  • Lane Community College in Oregon also offers nursing assistant certification, and this campus provides programs both for basic training and acute care. Each program costs less than $1,000 to complete, and day and night courses are also available to fit around every student's schedule. Clinical hours are also included in the coursework, and after finishing the program, students are prepared to take the Oregon State Board of Nursing certification exam.

This video describes the CNA program at Howard Community College.

If you are interested in a career in healthcare, there are many options available today. The training is relatively quick, salaries are competitive and the job field is wide open. Thanks to additional funding from the stimulus package, many students are finding they can begin their nursing career in just a matter of weeks, with certification from one of the many community colleges across the country offering a certified nursing assistant program.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @communitycollegereview

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