Monday, December 19, 2016

Career Paths for Certified Nursing Assistants

nurse and elderly woman in wheelchair
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are key to the daily care of individuals that have limited cognitive or physical abilities. They assist with the basic activities associated with living and act as a principal caregiver. CNAs typically perform their duties under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Nurse Practicioner (LPN).

CNA careers including working with patients in nursing homes, hospice care, or residential care facilities. They provide assistance with eating, hygiene, dispensing medication, and patient transfers. Some CNAs that are assigned to at-home care may assist with grocery shopping, light cleaning, washing laundry, and transporting the patient to appointments.

How to Become a CNA

To become a CNA, candidates must first pass post-secondary CNA program and an exam. There are many of these programs available in community colleges, online schools, and trade schools. Once a CNA passes their state-approved certification exam, several CNA careers become available, including employment in several of the environments previously mentioned. Although a certification is a must, CNAs must also have other important qualities, including compassion, patience, communication skills, and physical stamina since they spend much time on their feet and moving patients. Additional certifications CNAs may earn include Certified Medication Assistant (CMA) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

CNA Pay and Career Development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for CNAs is currently at $25,710, though CNA salaries can vary by state pretty significantly. This wage attracts many entry-level nursing professionals who are just getting started in their careers. Although the career of a CNA may offer some fulfillment, increased pay opportunities encourage many to continue to drive towards being either an RN or LPN. One of the most efficient ways for CNAs to do this (during their initial training) is to complete a diploma that will transfer into an accredited nursing program later on. Many community colleges offer these types of programs.

RNs and LPNs do benefit from CNA experiences because they develop core skills in basic patient care and relationships. This allows student RNs and LPNs to focus their learning on the more complex medical care surrounding their profession, including earning the required degree. Although one can become an RN by obtaining an associate’s degree, many hospitals require a bachelor’s degree. States also require all RNs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). RN professionals can earn a median annual wage of $67,490 and can enjoy a long-term career in a growing field.

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