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What Is A CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)

A CNA, or a certified nursing assistant, is a healthcare professional who assists patients with their daily activities under the supervision of an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) or RN (Registered Nurse). Common tasks of a certified nursing assistant are:

  • Tending to patients calls

  • Bathing patients.

  • Adjusting or moving immobile patients

  • Retaining necessary medical supplies and equipment

  • Feeding and recording the diet and hydration of patients

  • Help patients with hygiene and personal care

  • Checking patient's vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate.

CNAs are entry-level healthcare professionals. However, there are various ways in how this position can progress. Many will use this opportunity to join the healthcare system thanks to the affordability and a short timeline of a CNA Program. This way they can gain more experience and understand if healthcare is something they are still interested in. After a short time as a CNA, many proceed to obtain their Licensed Practical Nurse (licensed vocational nurse) certification.

Others would join a CNA program to gain clinical hours and use them as a nursing school prerequisite.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a universal starting point in patient care that opens numerous opportunities to individuals, whether it’s using clinical experience to get into the nursing school or progress their careers from CNA -> LVN -> RN

Certified Nurse Assistant Is More Than A Job

Whether you want to become a certified nursing assistant as a stepping stone in your career path or plan to jump into your nursing career with a fresh CNA certification, a fulfilling career lies ahead. Nursing assistants are essential to clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and medical practices, so there is rarely a lack of job opportunities. Healthcare providers everywhere rely on certified nursing assistants to provide direct patient care and there is no better place to start gaining experience.

How to become a CNA?

To become a CNA in California you will have to complete 160 hours of training. The average timeline of a CNA program varies from 4 weeks to a few months, depending on your state-approved training program. Once 160 hours of training is completed, you can then obtain your CNA certification after passing your clinical skills exam.

What are the CNA requirements?

In order to enroll in CNA programs, you have to be at least 16 years old with a valid social security card and high school diploma or GED. You must also have a valid ID and show proof of required immunizations. If you are in California, you would most likely get tested at Regional Testing Center to obtain your CNA certification.

Help Measure and Record Patient Information

Any nurse will tell you that a CNA’s role in measuring and recording is essential to patient care. CNAs will often take vital signs, like temperatures and blood pressures, as a way to help monitor and care for a patient. This information is documented and reviewed by the nurse. Any significant changes are reported to the nurse right away by the CNA. Because a nurse can’t be everywhere at once, the nurse counts on the CNA to deliver this crucial information.

The nurse, along with the rest of the healthcare team, uses the CNA's information to make further medical decisions in a patient's treatment plan. Many insurance companies also count on the medical team's documentation to make determinations regarding insurance payments. A CNA's documentation can make all the difference because of how necessary documentation is to patient treatment planning.

Addressing Patient Requests

When patients are bedridden, they’re often unable to do activities on their own. They might need someone’s help to perform simple tasks like turning up the volume on their television or adjusting their pillows. They might need ice chips for their dry mouth or socks for cold feet. The CNA is often there to help tuck in a blanket or close the curtains for the night.

When there's a shortage of nurses, the CNA is often the one that the patients turn to for help. Having that extra assistance from a CNA meets the patient's needs and helps the nurse a lot, too!

Is becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant Challenging?

Starting a rewarding career as a certified nursing assistant can be difficult without the proper training. Nursing assistants have to have the knowledge and skill to provide effective patient care, and these will be tested in the certification exam. Luckily, there are professional organizations that offer CNA training programs to help you conquer the CNA certification exam with confidence.

Community colleges, vocational centers, and learning institutions everywhere offer these programs, but Los Angeles Skills Academy goes beyond the typical CNA training and gives you all the tools for lasting success. Talk to educators who are passionate about nursing and find out if online or in-person classes are the best option for you.

Still have questions about CNA training or what a CNA is? Check out this expanded FAQ on CNA training.

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