When asked about nursing and healthcare, many people perceive it to be something like a Florence Nightingale position – complete with nursing cap and clipboard. Many women (and some men) aspire to this vision by way of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
The easiest and certainly the best way towards becoming an RN or LPN is to first achieve a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) status. Becoming a CNA enables one to be trained in the basic aspects of patient care. Some RN or LPN training programs actually require students to be CNA’s first, as they possess the basic knowledge and experience necessary for becoming an RN or LPN in the future. These programs typically have less dropouts and higher student success rates because of this requirement.
The basic responsibilities of a CNA is to take over routine tasks for the RN’s or LPN’s, for them to be able to concentrate on specialist tasks like nursing assessments, formulating care plans, administering patient medication and assisting in surgery room preparations. The CNA’s tasks typically involve assisting the patients with personal hygiene and activities of daily living. These include grooming, feeding, ensuring that the patients get adequate exercise, assisting the patients in moving about, bathing, making sure that the rooms and bed linens are clean and repositioning bedridden patients. The CNA’s are also expected to monitor the vitals signs of patients and that the attending physician or nurse learns about any significant changes in these.
There are many CNA training courses available. CNA courses are offered by some high schools, community colleges, vocational schools and some hospitals and nursing homes. Some of these courses can even be taken for free or partly online. Regardless of the kind of training, the courses should offer both classroom and practical training sessions. This ensures that the CNA candidate is trained properly and will be able to apply the lessons in a real hospital setting. The courses typically last for four months.
After finishing a CNA course, aspiring CNA’s should look into getting certified. This would involve passing a theory and practical exam, to demonstrate your ability to apply the patient care skills you have learned during your training sessions. Passing the exam will result in certification and your name being included in the national registry of nursing assistants.
During the clinical or practical exam of the certification process, candidates are expected to effectively demonstrate routine processes of CNA tasks. During this exam, candidates are graded on how they take their patients’ needs, privacy and dignity into consideration, as well as to demonstrate proper hygiene and knowledge of certain tasks.
If you plan on continuing your education to become an RN or LPN, some programs may require you to be a certified nursing assistant first. This ensures that their students already possess the basic knowledge of patient care and automatically weeds out those who are not fit for the role. Programs that require certification prior to enrollment usually have higher student success rates and less dropouts.
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