Exactly what is a CNA?

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Whether you’re a bright-eyed and bushy tailed student fresh out of college, or a seasoned career holder looking for a change, the Certified Nursing Assistant program is your ‘in’ to the fast-moving world of health care. With demand forecasted to only increase over the next few years, its an exciting and lucrative time to become a CNA.

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So what is a CNA?

steps for making a midcareer switch to become a cna
A Certified Nursing Assistant. Image by h2hhealth.com

A Certified Nursing Assistant,or CNA for short, carries out essential patient care procedures under the supervision of a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). Also referred to as a home health aides or patient-care assistants, a CNA is trained to be able to work in a wide scope of settings; whether its in hospitals or nursing homes, to assisted living facilities and personal homes. While challenging, the role of a Certified Nursing Assistant is also fulfilling, and is often considered an entry-point to higher, more advanced positions in one’s health career. Because of their direct interaction with patients, CNA certification is mandatory in ensuring that patients receive quality care only from qualified and legally certified nursing assistants.

The Nursing Industry – The Bigger Picture

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With an ever-aging population, the healthcare world is constantly expanding, and along with it, the demand for qualified health aides. Image by preferredgoldphc.com

With an ever-aging population, the healthcare world is constantly expanding, and along with it, the demand for qualified health aides. In an attempt to meet industry’s demands, the CNA training program remains robust. The fact is that, present trends predict a 26% job growth for Certified Nursing Assistants and 49% for home health aides all the way to 2016. Because of this, the CNA program is a great opportunity for ambitious individuals who are trying to establish a career within the healthcare industry

Due to the demands of the job, as well as the opportunities for career advancement, many hospitals experience high CNA turnover rates; as a result, there is a steady need for qualified nursing aides. Interested candidates have to be strong and mentally prepared. The reality is that both RN’s and nursing assistants encounter many of the same stressors in their day-to-day work life. As a result, prospective CNAs have to quickly learn (if they haven’t already!) to establish highly effective work ethics early in the CNA training phase.

CNA Duties and Responsibilities

Certified Nursing Assistant
CNA Duties and Responsibilities. Image by continuingeducation.unlv.edu

CNA-to-patient interactions can involve situations with a high degree of sensitivity – just one of the reasons why CNA training and certification is legally mandatory. In terms of the work they do, the role of CNA holders is not the same as Medical Assistants or orderlies.


The basic duties of a CNA include:

– Vital signals
Vital sign taking and monitoring are standard procedures, integral to a thorough diagnosis of the patient. Vital indicators would be things such as pulse rate, body temperature, blood pressure levels and the respiratory rate.

– Hygiene
To be certain that the patient’s quality of life is optimal, one of the duties of a nursing aide is helping to sustain proper hygiene at all times. From shampooing to basic oral care, nursing aides are responsible for making sure that the patient is clean and restful.

– Patient repositioning and turning
In order to prevent bed sores amongst post-operative and bed-ridden patients, CNAs are responsible for repositioning patients – this is usually done every couple of hours. Protection of both patient and CNA is always a primary concern, therefore core principles such as how to align the body properly must be observed

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