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A nursing assistant, also known as a nurse’s aide and other names, is an invaluable part of the healthcare field. A nursing assistant helps patients bathe, walk, other hands-on care and assigned tasks under the supervision of nursing staff. Few healthcare facilities could operate as efficiently without these aides, and caring for patients would be all the harder for their absence.
How to Become a Nursing Assistant
Most states require a minimum of a high school diploma or a General Education Diploma. Some states require additional training to qualify for the position, but the only uniform requirement is at the federal level and applies directly to the nursing assistant who works in a nursing care facilities: The aide must take training encompassing at least 75 hours of practical experience and pass a competency exam. The passing grade grants the title, Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA. State standards differ by state, but not all require any kind of licensing or certification beyond the situational federal guideline. Check your state’s requirements.
For CNA Certification, most courses consist of patient care, body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology and other related courses. Certification courses are not included in the basic occupational training that can be found in some high schools, community colleges, healthcare facilities and other locations. Fortunately, most states as well as the federal government allow online courses that meet accreditation standards as qualified distance education credits. Because of the hands-on aspect, however, expect to work on actual patient care wards or floors before you fully qualify for testing.
Because of the availability of career training online, you can take online college courses part-time while you continue to earn a living, or if you prefer, you can gain this education by going back to college full-time and gain the credits for this certification more quickly. Some employers provide in-house training that can be done in classrooms as well as hands-on training by a nurse or an experienced aid.
The national growth projection is favorable for a nursing assistant. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes that the demand for this occupation may increase as much as 25 percent through 2018, which is much higher than national averages for most other occupations. Two possible reasons for the excellent job prospect come from high turnover and a wide range of employment locations. Nursing aides often continue their education with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in nursing and become registered nurses, opening positions within healthcare facilities.
Nursing assistants can and do work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, hospices, private medical practices, clinics, nursing care facilities, psychiatric hospitals, though these positions often require special training and certification as well, and other patient care environments.
Most nursing assistants work full-time, and it’s often shift work, since patient care continues around the clock. Some nursing assistants opt for part-time work, and these people comprise 25 percent of those employed in this field, although many of the part-time workers hold more than one part-time position; many opt for dual jobs for variety and environmental changes involved.
Regardless of where you find work or how many positions you find, and despite the occasional drudgery involved in tasks, working as a nursing assistant can be a rewarding and satisfying career in the front lines of daily patient care.