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Certified Nurse Aide

Certified Nurse Aide


The Certified Nurse's Aide - Critical Support


For people who are really sick, a visit from the doctor is just the beginning.  Severely ill people who can barely get out of bed need help with the basics: preparing food and eating it, bathing, getting to the bathroom.


Nursing aides are the people who help patients with such tasks in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.   Working under the supervision of nurses, CNAs are assigned various titles such as hospital attendants or nursing assistants. Those with more training and advanced responsibilities often have a job title such as patient care technician instead of aide or assistant.  Their role in any health care facility is vitally important: the fact is that a nurse's aide has more daily contact with patients than doctors, nurses, or anyone else on the hospital staff.


Certified Nurse's Aide - Learning the Skills


Entry level nursing aides don't have to have any formal training and some employers don't even require a high school diploma or GED. However, applicants who have completed a certified nurse's assistant (CNA) program and passed the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program certification exam will have an easier time finding work and being promoted. Employers who hire uncertified nursing aides often require them to train and pass the exam to become a CNA within several months of beginning work. They are then entered into a registry of certified nursing aides. Many employers, particularly hospitals, also provide specialized training to allow aides to take on more responsibility in a clinical area, such as cardiology, or radiology.  

In addition to studying on the job in hospitals and nursing homes, it is also possible to study to become a CNA in high schools, career & technical education centers, community colleges, and trade schools. Programs that prepare students for certification generally require a minimum of 120 hours of training. Courses include body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, communication skills, and resident rights. Aides also learn how to bathe, feed, and groom patients.


Specialization for Certified Nurse's Aides


Nursing aides and technicians do not start off training in a specialization. Once they're working, however, they receive training from their employers and develop specialized skills. Some end up specializing in nursing home care, or rehabilitation hospital care, for example. Others who work in hospitals specialize in a particular patient care area, such as psychiatry, acute care, cardiology, maternity, radiology, and so forth.


Opportunities for Certified Nursing Aides


There is a fairly high degree of turnover in the profession because the work can be physically demanding.  Helping severely ill and/or elderly people can often involve lifting and supporting substantial weight.  CNAs are on their feet most of the time.  However due to the shortage of nurses in this country, employers will often encourage CNAs to return to school and become Licensed Vocational Nurses or RNs.   This job is an excellent example of gateway employment that you can maintain while studying for a more skilled position through night school or online.


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