Are you looking for a new career path? Are you having trouble finding openings in today’s job market? Do you care about people, and want to help in a medical setting? If you answered yes to these questions it may be time to consider becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA. The CNA job market is one of the fastest growing job markets in today’s economy. CNA openings are projected to continue to rise over the next several years in correlation with the rising geriatric population. Certified Nursing Assistants are needed around the country to assist with nursing responsibilities in nursing homes, hospitals, adult day-care centers and other medical environments. If you are a patient and compassionate person this may be the job for you.

In order to become a Certified Nursing Assistant you need CNA certification. What is CNA Certification? Basically CNA certification is a simple license to practice basic patient care responsibilities under the supervision of a licensed nurse. As with all medical professionals, CNA’s also need to be licensed or properly certified in the state where they are employed. The difference between the process of becoming certified as a CNA vs becoming certified or licensed as a registered nurse is time. It takes much less training, schooling, and clinical hours to get certification as a CNA. This is wonderful for people who are interested in getting into the medical field, but want to start quickly. Typically from the time training begins to the time of certification is only about 2-3 months, some people can do it much more quickly, others take a bit longer.

How is CNA Certification Achieved?

What is CNA certification and how do I get started? CNA certification is achieved by taking the necessary classes, completing a required amount of supervised clinical hours and passing the 2 part examination. The classes required for CNA certification cover the basics of patient day-to-day care. A prospective CNA candidate would learn how to take vital signs, distribute medication, proper documentation, and simple care of patients such as feeding, bathing and moving. The courses that are required typically take about 72 hours of in class time, however some people opt to do this portion of their requirements towards CNA certification online. Intensive programs are often offered at colleges, hospitals or the local Red Cross; and may be completed in as little as a few weeks’ time.

Once the course CNA requirements are completed, a CNA certification candidate must complete a specific number of clinical hours in a medical setting. This is typically done in a hospital or nursing home setting under the supervision of a licensed nurse. During this externship, a CNA certification candidate will put to use the skills they learned throughout their course work in a real world setting. In many states as few as 16 hours of clinical experience are required. The hours will be documented by the supervising nurse, and this documentation is part of the requirement to receive certification as a CNA.

After the externship is completed, a CNA certification candidate must pass the two part CNA certification exam. One part of the examination is testing theoretical knowledge, or the information that was learned during the course work hours of the process. This is a typical multiple choice style test, and covers medical terminology, steps of skills, and some anatomy etc. The second part of the examination is a practical exam. This part of the exam tests the skills that were learned, and these skills are done in front of an examiner. It may be skills such as taking blood pressure, administering medication, or showing how to properly move a patient. The examiner will select around four or so skills to have the CNA certification examiner perform. All steps of the skills need to be completed accurately and thoroughly in front of the examiner.

On completion of the course work, externship and after passing both parts of the exam, a CNA certification candidate can apply for the actual certification in order to be licensed to work in a medical setting as a nursing assistant. In order to obtain the certification, the applicant will need to submit many pieces of evidence to the state nursing board. The CNA candidate will need to prove that they took and passed the course work, they will need to send a record of clinical hours completed, examination results, and they will need to have a medical exam, fingerprinting and background check completed. When all of these pieces of evidence along with the application are submitted to the state nursing board the CNA candidate will wait for their certification approval. This process can take a few weeks.

CNA Certification Jobs

Once the certification is approved and received from the state nursing board, the CNA candidate may look for a position as a CNA. The certification that is received will be the license you need to show your employer when you receive a job. This certification grants you the ability to work in a medical environment as a CNA. Certification is a very important part of the process. You cannot work as a CNA without the proper certification from the state.

Keep in mind that CNA certification needs to be renewed on a yearly basis. Check with your state board to find out the process of CNA license renewal, and keep your certification up to date at all times. Also, if you move to a different state there will be a process to get your certification for that particular state. Some states have reciprocity, which means that your certification is accepted as valid in another state, but you still need to go through the process of getting the actual certificate from whatever state you will be working in. Some states do not have reciprocity, and may require you to take their exam or complete clinical hours within their state in order to acquire the proper certification for work.

Certification as a CNA is a wonderful thing to have in today’s job market and economy, even as a fall back option. CNA’s will be needed for years to come in every state across the country. Most of the jobs openings in the CNA field will be nursing home jobs. As the geriatric group increases in our country, more and more nursing homes are being built, which means more and more nursing homes need staffing. There are, however, also job openings for CNA’s in a hospital setting. Many CNA’s would prefer working in a hospital setting, and as such those jobs can be more difficult to find. All in all, though, the CNA certification is a great asset in today’s job market, and one type of certification that we may see increase in value in the years to come.

If you came here asking ‘what is CNA certification’, we hope you have a better understanding of what CNA certification is all about. Regardless of what you want to do with it, if you have any interest in being certified as a nursing assistant now is the time to do it! Some people use CNA certification as a step towards getting their nursing degree. They work as a CNA while going to nursing school. This allows perspective nursing students to get on the job training in some regards, and allows them to be in the medical field while they are continuing their education to advance their medical career. CNA certification is a great way to get started in the medical world!