Hospital Aide Training Programs and Requirements

Hospital aides, also known patient care assistants, nursing assistants or nurse's aides, support physicians and nursing staff in the care of hospitalized patients who can't complete tasks such as eating, walking, or dressing themselves. Those who enter the profession receive their training through state-approved certificate programs at community colleges or vocational schools, and then seek certification as a nurse's assistant before applying for employment.

Essential Information

The most common form of education for a nursing aide is a nursing assisting certificate program. This program may also be called a patient care assistant certificate program, but both curricula provide the same skills and training. Students learn how to monitor and care for critically ill patients while under the supervision of a higher-level medical professional.

  • Program Levels in Nursing Assisting: Certificate programs
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, current immunization records, background check
  • Program Length: One to two years
  • Other requirements: Federally mandated 75 hours of practical training

Certificate in Nursing Assisting

This program is the most recognized training program for those interested in the professions, and takes one to two years to complete. Students learn about patient rights, basic first aid, sanitation and infection control. They also learn how to monitor a patients' health status and administer medication. Other courses may include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • CPR and other life saving techniques
  • Medical ethics
  • Principles of patient care

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for nursing assistants is expected to rise 21% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average compared to other occupations. The majority of these professionals work at nursing care facilities and general hospitals. In May 2014 the BLS also reported that nursing assistants made a median salary of $25,100 per year.

Continuing Education Information

Upon completion of a certificate program, students may apply for certification by completing a state examination. The Certified Nursing Assistant examination 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.

Nursing assistants and other medical support professionals also 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.

Certified nursing assistants also have the opportunity to advance to a career as a registered nurse with additional training through an associate's or bachelor's degree in a nursing degree program at a community college, university or vocational school.

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