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Certified Nurse Assistant School and College Program Overviews

Students in a certified nursing program learn how to assist nurses with routine patient care and assist patients with daily living tasks. Find out what kind of requirements these programs have, as well as common courses, career information, and opportunities for continuing your education.

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Essential Information

Certified nursing assistants usually spend more time with patients than nurses do and are important members of healthcare teams. CNA programs can last from 9-18 weeks, depending on how many days a week classes meet and consist of 14-19 credit hours. Most schools offering CNA training also supply the certification. Education requirements for applying to a certified nursing assistant program are quite varied. Although all schools encourage applicants to have a high school diploma, some schools have an open admission policy for anyone over age 18. Other schools require a high school transcript or GED. You must also be CPR certified.


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Certified Nursing Assistant Programs

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs), commonly called nurses' aides, are trained healthcare professionals who aid nurses in giving routine health care (taking temperatures and blood pressures, and giving medications). They also assist patients with daily activities like eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting and exercising. Students learn medical terminology, legal issues and medical procedure assistance. CNA coursework covers topics in:

  • Communication skills and documentation
  • Patient environment and safety
  • Range of motion exercises assistance
  • Reporting patient status changes

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants in its statistics for this field. Most CNA jobs are in nursing homes, other residential care institutions or in home healthcare. Although requirements for entering these jobs are low, they often have high physical and emotional demands. Jobs available for nursing assistants from 2014-2024 are expected to increase by 18%. In 2015, the median annual salary was $25,710 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

Many states require certified nursing assistants to take 12-24 hours of training---usually in-service rather than official CEUs---for each period of certification renewal, which is usually two years. Additionally, a CNA may choose to continue his or her education and become a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse.

Certified nurse assistants offer more personalized care to patients than most other members of the nursing staff. Training programs for these professionals teach the skills that are needed to assist medical staff and patients with care routines, as well as offer opportunities for certification and career advancement.

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