Health care continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Its speed of growth means that there are going to be plenty of opportunities for people who want to work in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the industry will add more than 16 million jobs by 2030.1
If a career in health care sounds appealing to you, one option is to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). CNAs work in various settings, including long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home healthcare services. Learn more about what the job entails and how to train to become a CNA.
What Is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
A CNA is a person who provides basic care and support to patients. Their exact job duties vary based on the work setting and the patients they care for. CNAs who work in long-term care facilities can help people bathe, dress, and use the facilities.
CNAs in hospitals often take patient’s vital signs and help them into and out of wheelchairs. They usually also let the doctor or other members of a patient’s care team know about any concerns the patient has.
Whether in a long-term care facility or a hospital, the CNA is often the person the patient develops the closest bond with. They play an essential role in ensuring patient comfort and satisfaction.
The nursing field is broad and have many occupations. One common occupation is that of registered nurse (RN). While CNAs and RNs both work in nursing, there are several differences between what they do and the training they need.
RNs usually have a more direct role to play in administering care to patient than CNAs. While CNAs typically help patients with daily living activities, such as dressing, RNs focus on providing care. An RN might take a medical history, perform diagnostic tests, and give patients medications.
The training needed to become a CNA is different from the training needed to become an RN. Typically, these days, you need to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree before you can find a job as a RN. CNAs usually complete a short-term career certificate program.
The licensing exam is different for CNAs and RNs. After you earn a nursing assistant certificate, you’re ready to take the Certified Nursing Assistant exam to earn your license. RNs need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) after earning their degree.
What Skills Do CNAs Use?
CNAs need to a mix of soft skills and hard skills to thrive in the role. It’s important to be compassionate to others and to empathize with patients.
It’s also important to have good communication skills. As a CNA, you might need to share a patient’s concerns with another member of their care team. You also have to communicate clearly with the patient to let them know what you’re doing.
Being CNA can be physically demanding, as you’re on your feet for much of your shift. You might also need to be able to lift patients and support them as they walk from their beds to the bathroom.
Beyond relationship-centric skills, you’ll need to have basic nursing skills, such as using a blood pressure monitor, taking a temperature, and listening for the heart.
As of May 2021, the median annual salary for CNAs was $30,310.2 The job setting and location have significant effects on the median salary. CNAs who work for the government tend to earn the most, with median salaries of $37,310. The median salary for CNAs at long-term care facilities is $29,970.
How Do You Become a CNA?
In Florida, you need to pass the CNA exam before you can earn your license and find work as a CNA. One way to prepare for licensure is to attend CNA school. Orange Technical College has a Nursing Assistant career certificate program that helps you develop the skills you’ll need as a CNA while preparing you for the exam.
The total length of certified nursing assistant classes at Orange Technical College is 120 hours, so you’ll be trained and ready to start your career quickly.
If becoming a CNA sounds right for you, contact us today to learn more about the steps to enrollment.
Healthcare Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
Nursing assistants and orderlies, BLS, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-5