Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Video: Becoming a C.N.A.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Video: Becoming a C.N.A. Transcript

Are you interested in a health care career where you can be directly involved in patient care? Certified nursing assistants work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse, providing basic care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. A state issued license is required to become a certified nurse's aide.


A position as a certified nursing assistant is an excellent way to start a career in the health care field. Depending on state requirements, a nursing assistant can complete the certification process in as little as six weeks. A certified nursing assistant can expect to clean and feed patients, ensuring that all of their basic needs are met so that they can be comfortable and safe during their hospital or nursing home stay.

Job Duties and Skills

Certified nursing assistants provide personal care and attend to the basic needs of patients. Certified nursing assistants must always respect their patients' privacy, dignity and safety. Dressing, bathing and cleaning patients are three of the main duties of a certified nursing assistant. Other duties can include emptying and replacing catheter bags, feeding patients, making beds, transporting patients and cleaning patient rooms and treatment areas.

Vigilance and constant observation are also required of certified nursing assistants. Physicians and registered nurses rely on CNAs to monitor vital signs and report changes in patient status immediately. Excellent people skills are needed to work with patients in their most vulnerable moments.

Certified nursing assistants, also known as nurses' aides, work hard so that physicians and registered nurses can devote their energies to healing injuries and treating diseases. The accomplishments of a nurses' aide often go unrecognized, so they must take pride in their work, knowing that they are an integral part of the health care system.

Training Required

All certified nursing assistants must pass a state administered examination. Programs that prepare students for the exam are offered by the Red Cross, community colleges, vocational and technical schools and local healthcare providers, like hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. Programs offered by private hospitals and nursing homes often do not charge tuition but instead require graduates to work in their facility for a predetermined length of time after completing the program. These programs offer a combination of practical, hands-on skills training and classroom education. Depending on the intensity of the schedule, a CNA training program can take from six weeks to six months to complete.

The certification examination varies by state but is generally made up of written and clinical sections. The clinical, or practical, section is considered more challenging as it requires test takers to demonstrate skills on a simulated patient. The written portion of the exam requires recall of facts and information learned in the training program.

In addition to completion of the certification examination, some states require a number of certified hours of work experience. These can be accumulated after completing a training program and before attempting the certification examination. All certified nursing assistants will be required to complete a criminal background check and pass a drug test prior to starting work.

Career Options

The most common employers of certified nursing assistants are nursing homes, hospitals, private clinics and assisted living facilities. While CNAs are licensed by the state, their skills are not as advanced as those of registered nurses or other health care professionals. This can limit opportunities for advancement, especially for those without any college education.

Many registered nurses and even some physicians start their careers as certified nursing assistants. CNAs have the opportunity to gain health care experience without significant investments of time or money. Those who do enjoy the nature of the work will find it easier to complete the training and educational programs required for advanced positions.



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