You have been dreaming of a career in the healthcare sector, but lack a college degree. Don’t worry. Several entry level medical jobs require only a high school education. For example, to become a medical assistant or a certified nursing assistant, you don’t need even an associate degree.
Difference between a medical assistant and a certified nursing assistant
A medical assistant performs both administrative tasks and patient care. Their duties include administering shots, taking the vital signs of patients, helping physicians complete exams, and preparing blood samples of their patients for testing. Their administrative tasks include scheduling appointments and entering patient data correctly into the database.
CNAs, by contrast, work with patients at all times. Their job is to help patients with basic care. For example, CNAs have to bathe patients, get them dressed, feed them and transfer them between the bed and the wheelchair. They also take the vital signs of their patient and convey their concerns to nurses.
Medical assistants do not require a post secondary degree, although employers prefer candidates who have completed a MA training program. These programs teach you essential medical terminology and human anatomy. You can complete an MA training program in less than a year.
CNAs need to be certified. To become a CNA, you have to complete a state-approved program to learn the basics of patient care. Once you complete your education, you have to pass a state-mandated competency exam.
Certified Nursing Assistants take care of individuals with certain physical disabilities or mental impairments. If you enjoy interacting with people and taking care of their basic needs, you may want to choose a career as a nursing assistant. Although this is an entry-level job, a CNA is an important member of a patient’s healthcare team.
Preparing for your CNA certification can be challenging. In this article, we will discuss the skills and knowledge you need to acquire to boost your chances of success.
Choosing the right CNA certification program is essential to boost your chances of success.
Hands-on Experience in Clinical Settings
As a CNA your job is to work with people. Clinical training should be an important part of any CNA certification program. Without hands-on experience, you will not be able to acquire the essential skills. Clinical training also increases your chances of passing the test after completing the program.
Clinical training is essentially an opportunity to work with patients in a nursing home, hospital, or senior care facility. During clinical training, you can put to practice all the skills and knowledge you gained in the classroom. Different states have different requirements for clinical training. While in some states, you need only 16 hours of clinical training to obtain your CNA certification, in some other states, it could be as high as 100 hours. Your clinical training sessions will be under the supervision of a registered nurse, and you will be providing care to patients in a real clinical environment.
As a certified nursing assistant, you have to learn to make your patients comfortable in your presence and ensure their safety. The hands-on experience that you have with patients will help you avoid making some mistakes on your CNA exam.
During the practical sessions of your training program, you will learn how to keep your patients clean, control infections, and provide nutrition and support. You will also learn about specific diagnostic or treatment procedures. Choose a quality training program and ensure that you get to spend adequate time with patients in real clinical settings.
Apart from acquiring CNA skills, you need some additional assessments to complete the training program. Your reading and mathematical ability, for example, are assessed. You should also get your high school diploma or GED verified. Age requirements for joining the program can vary from state to state. Generally speaking, the minimum age is 16 years.
Most training programs require their students to take a reading test before they can enroll. This is done to ensure that students are capable of understanding all the study materials and completing the program successfully.
A nursing assistant should enjoy good health. For this reason, CNAs have to get several health assessments and tests done. A TB test is one of them.
A potential nursing assistant should have clean lungs free from infection. Generally speaking, there will be a physical examination that includes the 2-step Mantoux. This is a skin test for TB and it can quickly and accurately identify whether the candidate is infected with TB. Results of this test are usually available within 2-3 days of administration.
Criminal Background Check
There will be a background screening to ensure that you have no criminal history. This is a crucial requirement for getting the certification.
A criminal background makes you automatically disqualified. A history of drug abuse, chemical dependence, and mental health conditions are other disqualifications.
The job of a nursing assistant is tough and stressful and only a responsible person committed to their profession can do full justice to it. For this reason, any habit or illness that prevents your ability to work rationally and responsibly at all times is a disqualification.
A criminal background check costs over 30 dollars and it is not refundable. Students should have their background check done before registering for the certification program.
Even if you have not spent time in prison, you can still have a criminal conviction. These include felonies and misdemeanors. They may have dropped the charges leveled against you, but the information will still be mentioned in your criminal history.
While minor violations like running a stop sign may not hamper your chances, more serious violations certainly limit your ability to build a successful CNA career. Note that even if you have some criminal charges leveled against you, you will be able to enroll in the educational program. However, many employers will be unwilling to hire you.
Local Orientation Session
The local orientation session is the final component of your training. Most programs make it mandatory for students to attend the orientation session. You will receive some important information during this session to better prepare for your certification.
During the orientation session, students have to bring their documents, results of physical exams, and background checks. If they satisfy all the criteria, they can enroll in the program.
Apart from the documents mentioned above, interested candidates have to bring their driver’s license, social security card, or another government-issued identity card and their test scores.
During the orientation session, you will receive information regarding the availability of CNA practice tests, the course of study, certification requirements, the withdrawal policy of the institution, required paperwork, the grading scale, and the lab or class attendance policies of the institution.
In short, it highlights the program essentials and for this reason, it is extremely important to attend the local orientation session.
Getting your CNA certification is the first step towards building a career in the healthcare industry. After working as a nursing assistant for a couple of years, you have the option to pursue further education and land more lucrative jobs in healthcare. Choosing the right course and fulfilling all other requirements is the key to getting your CNA certification. While gathering the required documents can be a little cumbersome, once you have ticked all the checkboxes you are ready to become a successful CNA.