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Hospital Aide Training Programs and Requirements

Patients rely on quality care from trained medical professionals when they are ill, and hospital aides are just one of the professionals who provide that service. Under the supervision of licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, hospital aides assist in helping patients eat, walk and dress themselves. Hospital aides receive their training through state-approved certificate programs before seeking certification as a nurse's assistant and then applying for employment.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Hospital aides, also known patient care assistants, nursing assistants or nurse's aides, support physicians and nursing staff in the care of hospitalized patients. Training, which may last from one to two years, at a community college or vocational school is preferred for those interested in the position. The most common form of training for a hospital aide is a certificate program, with graduates earning state certification as a nursing assistant after completion of the program.

Most certificate programs require that a student have a high school diploma or GED, current immunization records and a clean background check. Training programs for hospital aides are popularly called nursing assistant, nurse's aides or patient care assistant certificate programs, which provide the same curriculum, and require the same skills. Hospital aides should be in good physical shape, have a caring disposition, be patient and able to work well within a team.

Formal Education

High school graduates are eligible for a nursing assistant certificate program, and some aspiring hospital aides find experience in volunteer positions, at hospitals or nursing homes, before entering a certificate program.

Certificate of Completion in Nursing Assistant

The nursing assistant certificate program is the most recognized training program for those seeking a career as a hospital aide. Program names may differ, but training and curriculum are similar for such programs as the nurse's aide or patient care assistant certificate program. The requirements and curriculum for all programs include an overview of the role of the aide, patient's rights, basic first aid, sanitation, infection control and basic medical courses, such as anatomy, disease, physiology and nutrition.

Aspiring hospital aides learn how to perform, monitor a patients' health status, administer medication and perform CPR. Students are also made aware of the legal and ethical responsibilities that they will hold in their positions, as well as the basic principles of patient care, such as providing a safe environment, practicing infection control and comforting sick patients.

Job Experience

Most employers hire hospital aides with little or no field experience and most begin their career performing clinical and administrative duties under the supervision of nurses, doctors and other medical staff. Some certificate program graduates have experience through volunteer positions, which adds experience to the position.

Entry-level hospital aides may be asked to answer telephones, transport patients, change linens, refill water pitchers, feed and bathe patients, take vital signs and change dressings. With more experience, hospital aides may assist medical staff with advanced care, such as preparing and administering medications and assisting with minor procedures.

Licenses and Certifications

Upon completion of a certificate program, students may apply for certification by completing a state examination. The federal government mandates that students in a nursing assistant certificate program graduate with at least 75 hours of practical training.

Certified Nurse's Assistant (CNA)

The CNA examination, which is required for some hospital aide positions, covers practical skills and includes a written portion, which tests basic health and medical knowledge. Following a passing score on the exam, students may apply for state licensure. Not only is certification required to work as a hospital aide, but it also offers credibility and opportunities for job advancement.

Workshops and Seminars

Hospital aides and other medical support professionals have a wealth of continuing education opportunities through in-service training sessions, workshops and lectures. State nursing associations often have chapter events to offer training, networking opportunities and peer development. The National Association of Health Care Assistants and the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants typically have courses and conferences suitable for hospital aides.

Professional Development

A hospital aide is an entry-level position that students often take to earn money while in school to become a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. Hospital aides have the opportunity to advance to a career as a registered nurse with additional training through an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing degree program at a community college, university or vocational school.

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