certified nurses assistant

CNA: Education, Duties, Pay

certified nurses assistantA Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an entry level position into the healthcare and nursing industry.

CNAs courses offer a much faster entry into the healthcare employment industry. The down side is that a CNA is not a glamorous position due to the fact that they are often tasked with many of the menial tasks that LPNs and RNs are not able to do, due to their own higher and much more important and involved job priorities.

Typically, becoming a CNA requires the following: a High School Diploma or GED and completion of a 6 to 12 week CNA program. CNA classes are typically taught at community and vocational colleges as well as some hospitals.

CNA classroom instruction consists of basic nursing skills, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and infection control. CNA students also gain plenty of hands on experience in their careers and this experience is invaluable and much needed if you are to further your career in nursing and seek to advance to an LPN or RN.

CNAs work long and hard hours and their job includes many responsibilities. CNAs work in a wide variety of settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, adult day care centers, personal homes and assisted living facilities, and in private homes as home health aides. The National Association of Home Care offers national certification for Home health Aides. While a CNA has a faster class to employment time frame, CNAs are the lower skilled, frontline soldiers of the healthcare industry.


Typical CNA duties include:

* Taking a patients vital signs, e.g. Temp and Blood pressure and weight.

* Setting up medical equipment to assist with certain medical procedures.

* Feed, bathe, and dress patients.

* Making up patients beds and keeping the patients room clean.

* Answer calls for help from patients.

* Document or otherwise report observations of patient behavior, complaints, or physical symptoms to nurses.

* Cleaning and sanitizing patient rooms, bathrooms, examination rooms, or other patient areas.

* Change old dressings and apply new clean dressings, slings, stockings, or support bandages, under the direction of nurse or physician.

* Administer medications or treatments, such as catheters, suppositories, irrigations, enemas, massages, or douches, as directed by a physician or nurse.

* Transporting patients via wheelchair or stretcher for various procedures as required and / or ordered by the ordering physicians.


cna examCNAs are required to register in the state in which they live and work in. Each state has its own registry and requirements for maintaining certification. They must also take and pass the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program, or NNAAP of which you can take at your local American Red Cross chapter.

This exam is administered in 2 parts and both parts of the exam are given on the same day. In order to be listed in the National Nurse Aide Registry, both parts of the exam must be passed. The written part of the test is comprised of 70 multiple choice questions. The second part of the test is the Skill Evaluation. You must perform 5 randomly selected skills that nurse’s aides are expected to know. In order to receive NNAAP certification, you must be able to successfully perform all 5 skills.

CNAs are certified for two years from the date of their Certification. Typically they are required to work at least 8 hours during their 24 month valid certification. They MUST work in a nursing environment performing the duties for which they have been trained.

Some of the approved work facilities / environments that CNAs are required to work in to maintain their certifications are, but not limited to: nursing homes, hospitals, home health agencies, personal care attendant agencies, assisted living programs, hospice agencies, respite agencies, supervised independent living agencies, adult day health care programs and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled (ICF/DD) programs. Duties performed in adult day health care programs and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled (ICF/DD) programs) must be reviewed to determine whether they meet the established criteria.

CNA’s work so closely with patients on a daily basis that they are able to observe, and should note, obvious changes not only in the patient’s physical condition but subtleties of the patient’s emotional state.

As with any nurse position, having a good intuition can have a positive and immeasurable impact on how patients get through a trying recovery or coming to terms with a long term or permanent condition.

All CNAs must take and pass a drug screen and criminal back ground check. The median base salary for a CNA is around $25,000 p/year. Of course you could earn more, or less, depending on your years in service, geographical location, and the employer.

Are you a CNA? Are you interested in becoming one? We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Please leave a comment in the box below the video.


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George Tall

Author at Hug Your Nurse
George Tall works in the legal field, is a father of three, and a husband of a RN for 25 years. He enjoys writing about everything, especially nursing! He has been writing for a living, at least partially, since around 2000. As an author on dozens of websites, he enjoys being factual, while spinning a bit of humor where possible.
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