A Certified Nursing Assistant career is a great choice for someone who has a desire to help others but who may not have the time or money to attend nursing or medical school.
But that shouldn’t be interpreted to mean CNAs have few responsibilities and an easy work flow. The day-to-day activities of a CNA are varied and can be complicated one minute and a breeze the next; but the work is seldom routine.
CNA work is appealing due to its hands-on nature and practitioner’s ability to work closely with doctors and gain vast amounts of applicable medical knowledge without years of academic training. The work is also incredibly stable as CNAs fill an essential healthcare role that is expected to become even more in demand in coming years as an expansive baby boomer population continues to age and require more and more medical care.
The required academic experience of a CNA is considerably less than that of a Registered Nurse who will likely have a minimum of a four-year bachelor’s degree or a doctor who may have eight or more years of school in addition to residency work. A CNA can expect to attend an accredited program for about two years to achieve an Associate’s Degree before undergoing certification testing. Some practices may require additional hands-on training but that varies by practice and does not follow a set routine.
Activities of a CNA may involve taking vital signs, weighing patients, assisting patients getting into or out of bed or walking, delivering messages, monitoring vital signs, collecting samples for testing, assisting with patient hygiene, feeding and monitoring food and liquid intake. CNAs may also assist doctors with diagnosis and treatment of conditions ranging from colds and flu to a yeast infection or more serious ailments such as diabetes and cancer.
This work may take place in a variety of settings that range from a doctor’s office or clinic to hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, outpatient care settings and even in-home environments where the CNA may work with limited supervision. It is important to know that a CNA is fairly low in the hierarchy of a medical practice’s staff and may be prone to being given jobs that are less desirable to others in the organization.
Currently, the average national salary for a CNA is about $29,000. While that may not seem like a lot compared to other professions, consider the stability and in-demand nature of the job. That is extremely beneficial, especially in a down economy. Additionally, CNAs pick up valuable knowledge along the way and with additional education have many doors to advancement available to them.