Introduction to Nursing Assistant Career
Nursing assistants work alongside an RN or LPN to give care directly to patients. Being a nursing assistant requires assisting patients with medication, helping patients get dressed, and collecting the information necessary to aid in treatment. This job may be physically demanding and may require nursing assistants to work on their feet for many hours and sometimes lift or move patients. Because of the hands-on nature of the training required to become a nursing assistant, it can be difficult to do online. The table below shows a brief career overview including required skills, projected job growth, and salaries.
|Required Skills||Patience, empathy and compassion, physical stamina, communication skills, attention to detail, basic medical knowledge|
|Job Growth*||9% for 2018-2028 (for nursing assistants and orderlies)|
|Median Salary (2018)**||$28,540 per year|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Nursing Assistant Online
While there are very few 100% online CNA programs, there are lots of hybrid options that can offer CNA training; this means that the program will contain a blend of online and traditional classroom learning. The process of becoming a nursing assistant varies from state to state, but we can generally break it down to the following steps.
Step 1. Explore the Online Nursing Assistant Programs Option
Before starting with an online nursing assistant program, use online resources to research schools and colleges that offer hybrid nursing assistant training programs. Though students may do a significant portion of their coursework online, they will likely have to complete lab and clinical coursework on-campus, at an assisted living center, local hospital, or another healthcare facility. Students must also ensure that the program complies with nursing assistant training requirements of the state they want to work in. Also, the program must offer adequate preparation for certification testing.
Step 2. Fulfill All Program Prerequisites
Program websites should have a webpage detailing prerequisites. Typically, most nursing assistant programs are entry-level, meaning candidates do not need prior nursing experience to take them. However, students may still need to fulfill many common nursing prerequisites before being admitted into the program, such as age minimum. In most cases, applicants should be at least 16 years old, have cleared a TB skin test, and offer proof of good physical health. The exact prerequisites will vary from program to program, so candidates should understand the requirements before applying for the program.
Step 3. Complete Online Nursing Assistant Program
Hybrid nursing assistant programs are typically separated into the theory (or lecture) portion and the lab (or clinical) portion. Online courses utilize interactive technology, such as chat rooms, discussion boards, advanced computer software, and video lectures to teach students the basics of patient care. Students can study at their convenience, a practice known as 'asynchronous learning,' and submit tests and assignments through the web.
Students are also required to take the clinical portion of the program which is on-campus. Students must attend lab courses on a local campus to gain hands-on experience with the concepts that they learned online.
Step 4. Obtain Nursing Assistant Certification
After completing an approved program, nursing assistants get a certificate. The certificate makes nursing assistants eligible to sit for a state certification exam. Successful completion of the exam qualifies them to seek work as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).