Under the supervision of registered nurses, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide basic care for patients in hospitals, home health agencies and extended care facilities. For a CNA education program to be approved, most states require that students complete a certain amount of hands-on laboratory skills training. As a result, online programs that meet state licensing requirements typically have students complete lab coursework on-campus. These are known as blended programs. However, some medical assistant programs are available completely online.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the federal government requires that CNAs complete at least 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency evaluation that results in state licensure or certification (www.bls.gov). Video software may be required to access the online portion of these programs.
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Nursing Assistant Certificate
Blended online and on-campus CNA certificate programs are typically separated into the theory or lecture portion and the lab or clinical portion. Together, they teach students the skills necessary to assist nurses in a variety of healthcare settings. Common CNA tasks may include bringing patients to and from exam rooms, assisting patients with walking and basic skin care, helping patients dress and undress, delivering meals and checking vital signs.
The online portion of a blended CNA certificate program is typically the theory or lecture section. These courses utilize interactive technology, such as discussion boards, chat rooms, video lectures and advanced computer software, to teach the basics of patient care. Students can work on their own time, a practice known as 'asynchronous learning,' and submit tests and assignments through the Web.
The clinical, portion of the program is taken on-campus. Students attend lab courses on a local campus in order to gain hands-on experience with the concepts that they learned online.
After completing an approved program and earning a nursing assistant certificate, students are eligible to sit for a state certification exam. Successful completion of the exam qualifies them to seek work as CNAs.
Those seeking employment as certified nursing assistants may enroll in online training programs, which allow students to take lectures and submit assignments online. However, these programs require hands-on training as well, and students should expect to have to complete lab work on campus.