Nurses Aide Training Programs and Requirements

Nurse's aide, also called nursing assistants, hospital attendants, home health aides and certified nursing assistants, have been trained to be state-licensed medical professionals who assist patients with routine daily activities under the supervision of a licensed nurse or other medical staff. Nurse's aide programs teach students to be the primary caregivers of patients in hospitals, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and sometimes at the patient's home.

Essential Information

Training courses for aspiring nurses' aides may be completed in conjunction with high school classes or following completion of a high school diploma. Programs are normally offered through vocational-technical schools, nursing care institutions or community colleges.

  • Program Level for Nurse Aide: Certificate
  • Prerequisites: Students usually must complete a CPR course prior to completion of the program.
  • Program Length: Individuals interested in becoming a nurse's aide typically complete a 6-12 week state-approved nurse's aide training program at a community college, vocational center or medical facility.
  • Other Requirements: Depending upon state requirements, a varying number of on-the-job hours are required to be eligible for employment in the field. Licensing regulations for nurses' aides vary, but most states require graduates of nurse's aide training programs to pass an exam for certification.

Nurse Aide Certificate

Students enrolled in nurse's aide training programs are taught specific skills include bathing, feeding, assisting with patient movement, medication administration and catheter care. Both didactic and practical training are incorporated into the curriculum. Typical coursework may include the following:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • infection control
  • patient rights
  • nutrition and hygiene
  • medical needs

Licenses and Certifications

Licensing regulations for nurses' aides vary, but most states require graduates of nurse's aide training programs to pass an exam for certification. Those seeking employment in a nursing care facility are required per federal guidelines to complete 75-hours of on-the job training and a performance assessment. Upon successful completion, nurses' aides are placed on a state registry of certified nursing assistants. A varying number of continuing education hours are required each year in order to maintain certification.

Continuing Education

Often, a nurse's aide program is the first step towards higher nursing education, such as licensed practical nursing (LPN) and then registered nursing (RN). Additional education and training is required to progress further, but credit is often awarded for the initial training course. Nurses' aides may decide to focus in one specific area or job setting.

The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) sponsors an annual convention and other regional conferences for all types of nursing aides and assistants. Other workshops are provided by state-level associations for nursing assistants. Many training opportunities are provided through individual employers because policies and procedures vary widely between different types of care facilities.

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