Becoming a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) can change your life in unique ways. Not only is the healthcare profession indescribably rewarding, but CNAs also have the unique opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of others. Nurse assistants play a vital role in healthcare by working directly under registered nurses and licensed practical nurses assisting patients with essential daily tasks. Some of those tasks include bathing and dressing, repositioning, taking and recording vital signs, recognizing patient changes, and helping patients eat meals. Certified nurse assistants can work in a variety of healthcare locations, including inpatient hospitals, doctors’ offices, home care, and most importantly, skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes.
Many think that certified nurse assistants work a low-skill job, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nurses’ assistants hold many responsibilities and skills that require proper guidance and CNA training. CNA training programs are well structured and include written and hands-on skill testing to ensure that nurses’ assistants provide quality patient care. CNA training is comprehensive and covers education regarding human anatomy, primary patient care, infection control, nutrition, proper communication, documentation, safety precautions, and patient rights. Along with the necessary education requirements to become a CNA, healthcare workers must also hold compassion and excellent social skills to form trusting patient relationships.
To help improve the nursing workforce, the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) has recently launched an initiative called “Drive to 25” to provide a pay increase to CNAs across California. This initiative aims to increase hourly CNA wages and adequately compensate CNAs for their skilled work. California's nursing homes and skilled facilities are funded primarily by federal and state government agencies like Medi-Cal and Medicare. These programs financially support skilled facilities at greater than 80%. The “Drive to 25” initiative will raise funding for increased nurse assistant wages by mandating increased Medi-Cal reimbursements.
Currently, the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) estimates the average CNA wage throughout California to be $17.29 an hour. Under the “Drive to 25” initiative, salaries will begin to increase to $20 an hour by September of this year and continue to increase to $25 an hour by January of 2025. The overall goal of this reform is to compensate our skilled nursing workers for their tireless work and strengthen the nursing workforce and decrease the nursing turnover rate. Over the next three years, the average hourly wage for certified nurse assistants is expected to increase by nearly 8 dollars per hour.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has left a record-breaking nursing shortage in its wake, especially within skilled nursing facilities. Before the pandemic, skilled facilities struggled to maintain caregiver retention and fill job vacancies. The CAHF estimated that the annual turnover rate of certified nurse assistants in California is currently 52%. This turnover rate is credited not in response to a skill or education shortage but instead to a wage shortage.
With this new financial initiative to increase the wages of certified nurse assistants, there is no better time to propel forward and enroll in a certified nurse’s assistant training program in your area. There are approximately 1100 skilled nursing facilities in the state of California. These facilities employ the most significant amounts of certified nurse assistants. It is currently estimated that there are 58,000 men and women working as certified nurse assistants in the state of California, and there are thousands of job openings available to be filled by qualified and trained nursing assistants. Job security will never be a worry in the healthcare field.
Along with the increased pay you can expect over the next three years, becoming a certified nurse’s assistant comes with many benefits. Job flexibility is a significant perk that attracts many to a career in healthcare. Healthcare workers can choose their preferred shift times, so instead of working the standard 9-5, there is a wide variety of work hours to choose from that can be an excellent option for those who need a more flexible work schedule, such as mothers or students. Other benefits to enrolling in a CNA training class include the affordability of education, the flexibility of class schedules, and the promise of an emotionally rewarding career.
Becoming a certified nurse's assistant can also serve as an ideal stepping stone to growing within the nursing profession. Although nurse’s assistant training is entry-level, you are able to dip your toes into the many opportunities available to you within the healthcare field. Many nurse assistants can see the many possibilities that lie at their feet and decide to further their education by enrolling in further education programs to become respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, or registered nurses. Nurse assistants are prime candidates when applications are reviewed for associate and bachelor's degree programs.
If becoming a nurse's assistant sounds like a role you would like to fulfill, consider enrolling in a training program in your area. There are many different options for completing your education, including CNA weekend classes and CNA online classes. CNA training classes can be completed in as little as four weeks with a low out-of-pocket cost for the classes. Highly experienced and professional nurses teach students with the expectation of excellence. Learning is fast-paced but focused and will train you to become a passionate and competent healthcare provider.