Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a great career choice, especially in an economy that seems to constantly be downsizing. Since nursing assistants will always be in demand, a CNA can enjoy job security in a shaky job market. It's also a great way to get your foot in the door to the medical field, and can help pave the way to more advanced certifications or degrees.
Certified nursing assistants are trained to assist sick, injured, disabled, or mentally ill patients with daily care. A CNA's job is primarily to assist patients with everyday needs, including dressing, bathing, eating, brushing teeth or hair, helping them in and out of beds or chairs, and so forth. They may also be asked to perform other tasks such as taking vital signs and changing bed pans, linens, or patient's clothing. Essentially, a CNA is, as the name indicates, an assistant to nurses and other care givers, often doing the tasks that other medical staff do not have time to do. Because of the nature of a CNA's tasks, they often have the most patient contact out of all the medical staff. Many CNAs work in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
Getting a CNA certification is not a long and complicated process, but it does involve classes and testing, and does require you to have a high school diploma or GED before you can do it, though some high schools do offer CNA prep classes, as well. There are several community colleges that offer CNA programs, as well as stand-alone certification programs, some of which are offered by nursing homes or medical institutions. Classes can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, followed by a set number of hours of hands-on clinical training. Once classes and training is completed, the certification exam can be taken.
The salary for a certified nursing assistant varies depending on the location of employment, but ranges between $10 and $12 per hour to start. The work will be most appealing to those who desire a career where they can help people, have a great deal of patience, and would like to have a great deal of patient contact on a daily basis. Many people eventually move on to other certifications and degrees in the medical field after working as a certified nursing assistant for several years, though some find satisfaction working as a CNA for the rest of their careers. Either way, becoming a CNA is a great for those who have a passion for patient care and want a fast and easy way to work in the medical field.