Every state requires nurse aides to have at least 75 hours of approved, supervised training before seeking employment. Many colleges offer certificate programs that meet this requirement, and they include lecture-based courses and hands-on clinical training. Graduates are prepared to take the CNA exam leading to professional certification.
Nurse Aide Certificate
These programs typically require a high school diploma or equivalent for entry and last for one semester. A nursing aide certificate program teaches students to provide direct care to patients, communicate with patients and medical staff members and perform various health and organizational tasks. State-approved programs allow graduates to immediately take a CNA exam to become certified. Courses in a nursing aide certificate program may cover the following:
- Clinical nursing practices
- Personal care strategies
- Infection control
- Medical terminology and record keeping
- Emergency and safety procedures
CNA certification is necessary for jobs in nursing care facilities. Other caregiving certifications are also required for nurse aides.
The CNA certification requirements, including the 75 hours of training and the competency exam, are maintained by the federal government. The nursing care competency exam typically includes both a written and a practical care component. During the practical portion, candidates may need to demonstrate their ability to properly and safely perform tasks such as changing a bed, providing nail care and transferring a patient to a wheelchair. Nurse aides who complete the training hours and pass the exam are recognized as CNAs.
Employers also require applicants for CNA jobs to have current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. CPR instruction may be included in a CNA training program. The American Red Cross and other organizations also offer CPR certification courses, which usually can be completed in a few hours.
Continuing Education Information
Nursing and vocational schools may offer nurse aide workshops that last several hours. In some cases, workshops can be used for academic credits in a nursing aide certificate program. Nursing homes, health care agencies and other employers may also provide daylong workshops for newly hired nurse aides.
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) offers workshops and conferences annually for nurse aides, assistants, geriatric aides and other direct care workers. The NAHCA has more than 35,000 members and provides training, networking and advocacy services for direct care workers. Conferences and workshops have direct care speakers who provide information on nursing care, trends in health care and changes to regulations and laws in nurse assisting.
Students in nursing aide certificate programs learn fundamental medical terminology and master basic nursing skills. Graduates are prepared for professional certification and entry-level employment in the field.