Nursing assistants perform several important tasks in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities and clinics. They are considered to be essential members of the health care team. Without the nursing assistants, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses will not be able to perform their tasks efficiently. Nursing assistants help in routine patient care such as bathing, feeding and grooming, therefore significantly improving the quality of care provided by the health care professionals.
In order to be eligible to sit for the state licensure and become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), an individual must first complete at least 75 hours of classroom instruction and a minimum of 100 hours of clinical training. Programs are offered in various schools and there are thousands of official CNA training programs across the nation. Most of the CNA training programs can be found in community colleges, technical or vocational schools, high schools, adult schools, health care facilities, community centers and in online distance learning schools.
Since nursing assistants have many responsibilities that are critical to patient care, it is important for them to be exceptionally knowledgeable when it comes to performing their designated tasks. To help prospective nursing assistants do a good job in their working environment, the nursing assistant training program teaches the students the fundamental skills they need that pertains to bedside patient care. This includes emergency procedures, basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique, long-term care safety measures, preventive measures, infection control, patient’s rights, vital signs monitoring, medication assisting, legal issues and ethics. Students are also required to have hands-on training under a supervised clinical or hospital setting to guarantee that they know how to put what they have learned from the formal classroom instruction into clinical practice.
Occasionally, some employers will ask nursing assistants to take supplemental courses in order to help improve their patient care skills or to expand to other functions such as office management. Some of these courses include anatomy and physiology, medical assisting, algebra, computer-related courses, and English.
After finishing the nursing assistant training from a state-approved nursing assistant program, students are eligible to sit for the state licensure certification examination. Other eligibility requirements include medical and physical examinations, completion of the fingerprint application process and criminal background screening. In most states, it is also required for applicants to be at least 16 years of age and to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. If the examination is passed, the nursing assistant will become a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
For CNAs to be able to renew their certification, they are required by the state boards to obtain continuing education units. In some states, CNAs are required to complete 12 hours of in-service training annually. Continuing education units may be obtained by taking courses that are related to areas such as infection control, HIV/AIDS, medical record documentation, medical error prevention, public health and preventive medicine.