What Is A Nursing Assistant?
A certified nursing assistant is someone who has a high school diploma and who has completed a minimum of 75 hours of State-authorized training and passed a competency review. Although in general all you need is a high school diploma in order to do this job, each state requires that a nursing assistant working in any hospital must also be certified. Fortunately the training does not take long. A certified nursing assistant is someone who provides basic care to patients and who assists other health care professionals, such as licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and doctors, to go about their daily tasks and duties. Essentially the idea is that you will free up the more professional members of the healthcare team to focus on important problems by dealing with the basic patient care needs.
Nature of the Work/duties
According to http://www.nursing-assistants.org/ the work of a nursing assistant entails:
- Helping patients to eat, dress, and bathe
- Serving meals
- Making beds
- Tidying up rooms
- Answering calls
- Delivering messages
- Taking a patient’s temperature
- Taking a patient’s pulse and respiration rate
- Taking a patient’s blood pressure
- Helping a patient get out of bed
- Guiding a patient to operating and examining rooms
- Performing skin care
- Setting up medical equipment
- Storing and moving materials
- Observing patients’ conditions
The first 6 tasks on this list are very basic, but as you can see there are also a number of more advanced things that you will be able to do. Remember that this is a gateway job that will make becoming an LPN and eventually an RN easier.
Although hospitals are the most common and popular places to find nursing assistants, there are a number of other options as well. The top three places where nursing assistants are employed are:
However it is also common to see them in places like doctor’s offices and hospices. In short nursing assistants tend to be employed in just about every facility where healthcare expertise is required on a regular basis in order to ensure that those living or visiting the facility are taken care of properly. Employment opportunities are many and diverse and are on the increase in this sector of the health care industry each and every year. As job stability goes, this is one of the better jobs to become involved in.
Nursing Assistant Requirements
There are a number of requirements that you will have to meet in order to be a nursing assistant:
- You need to have a high school diploma.
- You need to have completed a minimum of 75 hours of State-authorized training and passed a competency review.
These are the same requirements for all states. However it is very important to note that there may be additional requirements for becoming a nursing assistant depending on the exact state in which you wish to work. This means that you will need to do a bit of research on your own to determine what additional requirements, if any, you will need to meet if you intend to work as a nursing assistant in your area. This information can be found on the website of your state’s board of nursing.
There are a number of personality traits that a nursing assistant should have. These traits will also carry over into his or her career as an LPN or RN later in life. The main traits are:
- Patience: You cannot lose your cool with a patient or colleague as this is unprofessional as well as being counterproductive.
- Desire to Help
- People Skills: As you will deal with many different people on a daily basis, extremely good people skills are required for a position such as this one.
- Physical Health
- A Strong Stomach
- Administrative Characteristics
- Emotional Stability: You cannot allow yourself to be carried away by your emotions and you will have to balance compassion with objectivity.
To be a nursing assistant you really only need a high school diploma. The rest can be learned on the job as your tasks will be very basic. However if you want to significantly improve your chances of being employed there are a number of nursing assistant programs that you could become involved in that will boost your qualification and make you more desirable to employees. It must be stressed, however, that these training programs are not mandatory and you should, with a little bit of searching, be able to find a job as a nursing assistant without a training program behind you. Some states have different rules and may require a certain amount of experience or basic training, so find out what is needed in your particular state before starting your career as a nursing assistant.
There are no licensing requirements for nursing assistants like there are for other nursing professionals. However it is important that you receive the appropriate certification to practice as a nursing assistant. To do this:
- Get your high school diploma or GED.
- Look around for training from local hospitals or health care facilities as well as community colleges.
- Enroll in and complete the training program.
- Pass the certification exam and make sure that you meet all of the other certification requirements that your particular state may or may not have.
You are now certified to work as a nursing assistant. If you want to pursue licensure as an LPN or RN this is a course of action open to you and that you will be able to do easily.
How To Become A Nursing Assistant
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
You can complete your nursing assistant training at one of the following locations:
- Community colleges
- Nursing homes
- Freestanding schools
- Some private schools
As mentioned previously you will only need a high school diploma in order to enter into one of these training programs as the information that you will be taught is very basic in nature. However the longer the training program is that you attend and the more advanced the qualification is that you get, the higher your chances of being employed in a decent setting that will pay well. You will receive a certificate at the end of your training. Being a nursing assistant can be used as a stepping stone to more advanced careers, such as becoming an LPN or and RN.
Source An Accredited Education Program
When you look for a nursing assistant training program it is very important that the program you eventually choose is accredited and approved by your particular state’s board of nursing. If it is not your ‘qualification’ will not be taken seriously and you will struggle to find a job in that line of work. In short you will waste both your time and your money as you will have to pay for and complete another program. Consequently it is very important to check the credentials of a school before enrolling. At http://www.nursing-assistants.org/certified-nursing-assistant-trainingyou will be able to see what state approved programs are offered in each state. This is a good place to start your search for an accredited training program. Going directly to your state’s board of nursing for the information is also a reliable way to do this research.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
You do not need an associate’s degree in order to be a nursing assistant. It will be helpful if you complete the certification curses, but no actual degrees are required. If you earn an associate’s degree you will not be called a nursing assistant anymore. In fact, with an associate’s degree you will probably skip the level of LPN as well and go straight on to being an RN as this is the minimum qualification you will need in order to be a registered nurse. You can also earn:
- A bachelor’s degree in nursing
- A master’s degree in nursing
- A doctorate in nursing
There is plenty of room for advancement from the starting point of a being a nursing assistant, something that you should keep in mind when deciding whether or not this is the path for you.
Obtain Your Licensure
As mentioned previously, there is no actual nursing assistant license that you have to get. However there are options that you can consider for the future. You could, for example, choose to become licensed as an LPN (licensed practical nurse), LVN (licensed vocational nurse), or RN (registered nurse). This will require that you engage in further training. There are some CNA to LPN courses that will save you time. However if you want to be an RN you will have to get a degree at the very least, as mentioned in the previous point, and this could take as long as four years. Once you have the qualification, however, you will be eligible to earn a much higher salary and, on top of that, you will get more respect from your colleagues.
Online/Distance Education Programs
Although it is certainly possible to find online nursing assistant training courses, there is still a certain amount of hands-on practical experience and training required by most states, so be certain to get the proper balance of both theory and practical training throughout your course. Two of your online training options are:
St. Augustine Online Nursing Assistant School
2870 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
CNA Tutorial Program
810 East Bella Vista St.
Lakeland, FL 33805
Like with any other program you need to be certain that online programs are accredited and certified and that you will not be wasting your time once you enroll in them. In addition you should prioritize those online programs that provide hands-on training in some way and not those where you have to organize your own hands-on training.
It is very interesting to note that, because people are living longer lives with each generation, there is a notable increase in the number of jobs that are available for nursing assistants. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, health care providers are currently adding on average of 20,000 new jobs per month. The health care industry is one of the fastest growing industries, and a very good way to get involved in this stable career is by becoming a nursing assistant.
Generally speaking you can expect to earn between $8 and $17 an hour as a nursing assistant. There are a number of things that affect how much you earn, such as where you work. The highest salaries are usually earned by those who work in employment services and hospitals, and the lowest are earned by those in home health care services. This is due to the difference in job descriptions and responsibilities. Overtime is in the region of $1.22 – $22.69 an hour. As a nursing assistant you can expect a bonus in the region of $0.00 – $397.32 a year. That brings your potential total pay to about $18,697 – $31,673 a year. Education and location can also play a very big role in terms of exactly how much you earn.
One of the main advantages to becoming a nursing assistant is that it is the perfect way to get involved in the health care industry. This is one of the fastest growing industries in which you will always be guaranteed of employment. Consequently there are many reasons why you should enroll in a nursing assistant certification course today. If you are still in high school and you are interested in this position, focus on subjects such as biology that will help you in your career as a nursing assistant and that will later stand you in good stead if you choose to pursue an LPN qualification.