Who is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
A CNA is a specialized individual who provides basic healthcare to patients in various settings including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, home health aide agencies and other long-term care facilities. CNAs are also known as Patient Care Assistants (PCAs) or a Nurse’s Aide because their duties require them to assist nurses in providing care for patients and helping them with daily basic activities.
What does a CNA do?
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is equipped and skilled to perform various tasks and come of those tasks include;
- Transferring or repositioning patients
- Taking a patient’s vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature and pulse
- Bathing patients and helping them get dressed
- Feeding patients
- Helping patients with their personal hygiene i.e. combing their hair, trimming their nails etc.
- Cleaning rooms and making beds
- Preparing rooms before patients come in
- Helping with medical procedures
- Dressing wounds
- Entertaining patients and keeping them happy
- Answering patient calls
- … and much more!
CNAs are rarely employed in out-patient healthcare settings. Their roles require them at in-patient healthcare settings where they assist nurses to provide care for patients.
Qualities of a Certified Nursing Assistant
Excellent communication skills
- When working in a team, it is essential to pass on accurate information and therefore effective communication skills is key. You will need to share patient observations with nurse and make a report. You need to listen to patients and understand their needs. The patients also need to be able to understand you.
- One of the responsibilities of a CNA is to monitor the patient’s condition. A CNA must observe and report even the smallest changes. Since you are the one spending lots of time with the patient, you will be the first to observe something different or unusual.
Emotional stability (strong mental health)
- Every day, you will observe your patient as they fight and struggle against their diagnoses. Some of them will not recover, some may die. Since you may have built a strong relationship with them, this may traumatize you or affect your mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to remain strong and be prepared for every situation!
- A CNA’s daily duties include lifting, moving and transferring patients. A lot of time is spent on your feet until you can relax after a long day at work! Physical strength is necessary to be able to carry out the tasks and help other workers around. Always remember, keeping yourself healthy is a priority because only then will you be able to help others stay healthy and strong!
- Managing your time well allows you to take breaks without worry and also helps reduce your stress. There is a lot to do in a day and it is very important that you plan yourself so that you are able to give your patients the time that they need as well as get some time for yourself.
- Becoming a CNA requires you to be flexible and that means that you must be willing to work at any time that you are called! Some days may not be very hectic while other days could be more challenging than any other day! You may be asked to work on weekends or night shifts. You may even be asked to fill in for a co-worker. Therefore, you need to be able to adapt to every situation!
Compassion & Empathy
- As a healthcare professional, you must have concern and care for others. You need to try and put yourself in the patient’s situation and understand how they are feeling. Your patients need your continuous support and encouragement that they will get better. Remember that you might be the only support they have and they are depending on you entirely.
The Salary for Certified Nursing Assistants
The national average annual salary for a Nursing Assistant (as of 2020) is $31,905. That is approximately $15.34 an hour. $614 per week and $2,659 per month.
Note: these figures depend on the facility and state where a CNA is employed. The salary can also depend on other factors including; education, certification, experience and additional skills.
If you want to find the best location with the highest salary, below are the statistics of the data (as of 2020):
Alaska – $40,795 annually.
Hawaii – $40,381 annually.
California – $40,118 annually.
New York – $39,307 annually.
Oregon – $38,600 annually.
Minnesota – $38,066 annually.
District of Columbia – $37,250 annually.
Massachusetts – $35,633 annually.
Connecticut – $34,816 annually.
Nevada – $33,972 annually.
Nursing Assistants can work on various schedules depending on the requirements outlined by the employer. Some CNAs work a number of different shifts throughout the week while others have a specific schedule and a specific annual salary. A CNA’s salary is determined by the requirements of the employer and the hospital as well as the contract.
Advancing your career as a CNA.
Registered Nurse (RN)
Upon completing your Certified Nursing Assistant training program, you may wish to advance in your career and take up the RN or LPN course. Your free CNA certificate and your experience as a CNA will help you advance in your career.
You will be required to earn an associate’s degree in nursing before becoming a Registered Nurse. It is a 2-year program that comprises of basic skills and work experience under supervision in order to prepare you for the licensure exam.
Once you graduate and have earned your associate’s degree, you will be qualified to take the National Council Licensure Exam which if you pass, will qualify you as a Registered Nurse and you can advance further into your career.
As you gain more experience in the field, you can consider applying for entry-level jobs and continue to earn more certifications. You can use your professional experience as a CNA and your certifications on your resume when applying for a job. Physician’s offices, hospitals and urgent care facilities are some of the places you could apply to.
After establishing your role as a Registered Nurse for a certain amount of time, you could consider taking the four-year degree program to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). This will help boost your position in the healthcare field and even give you a higher pay.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
If you decide to advance your career and become a LPN, you will need to complete a one/two-year training program. LPN is a good option if you are looking to join the workforce quickly or if you are still deciding whether you want to continue pursuing a career in nursing. You need to have the CNA knowledge and experience. Your experience as a CNA equips you with valuable knowledge and skills that can help you in various ways.
All the best!