A certified nursing assistant (CNA) works with registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to care for patients in a variety of settings. CNAs help people with their daily living activities, including bathing, dressing, and eating, and provide routine care, such as checking vital signs. This allows the supervising nurse to have more time to give patients the specialized care they require.
A CNA must have a keen sense of observation and report to the supervising nurse any changes in a patient’s condition. In addition, a CNA should have enough physical strength to be able to move patients, for example, into a wheelchair. In an emergency, a CNA must be able to remain calm and respond appropriately. Other qualities in a typical CNA include patience, compassion, and strong communication skills.
Becoming a CNA requires no previous medical experience. One should have a high school diploma, and a background in scientific courses is helpful but not necessary. CNA classes are available through the Red Cross, community colleges, vocational schools, and even some medical facilities.
Students must complete some course work, but the bulk of training comes through hands-on experience in a clinical setting. A CNA must pass a state exam in order to obtain certification. To continue to be certified, CNAs must take 12 hours of continuing education yearly.
CNAs can find work in hospitals, assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and personal homes. Other titles a CNA may be called include nurse’s aide, orderly, personal-care assistant, home health aide, nursing assistant–registered (NA/R), and patient-care technician.