It’s a known fact that the medical sector is ever growing as the population booms and ages. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the most in-demand jobs is for CNA’s, or certified nursing assistants.
Certified nursing assistants are responsible for caring for patients’ particular and pressing needs such as hygiene, day-to-day activities, checking vitals and so forth.
Since this is such a demanding job, there are particular training, state law and regulations that one must follow and understand in order to become trained in Massachusetts.
Job Scope and Responsibilities
Before deciding on a career of becoming a CNA, it’s important to understand the role and responsibilities of this particular job.
The most common duties and responsibilities include:
- Assisting patients with personal care such as bathing, dressing, feeding and other hygiene related tasks.
- Measuring patients’ vital signs.
- Setting up medical equipment for various procedures.
- Transporting patients as needed, which can include physically lifting patients.
- Answering patients’ calls and communicating to both the patient and his/her family.
- Reporting to senior staff if any issues or problems arise.
Basically, you can refer to the certified nursing assistant as the point person for the patient, who is right there with the patient as he or she goes through their daily activities.
Cost of Training, Certification and Training Curriculum
There are many programs to choose from and various pathways to become a CNA, but you need to know what you should look for before signing up for any program. First of all, any Massachusetts program must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Health.
You need to understand that the most direct path to becoming a CNA is to complete an accredited nurse aide training program.
In some programs, after about 8 weeks of nursing assistant training, you should be prepared to take the required Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation, or NACE. This gets you into the entry level field of nursing assistants.
The actual curriculum consists of lecture and lab hours on a campus and clinical hours at a long-term care facility.
The curriculum will teach you how to successfully perform the routine duties of a CNA, while also preparing the student for a diverse and ever-changing population. You will receive basic skills training such as checking and monitoring vitals and a broad overview of how to deal with patients’ needs and requirements.
In addition, you will get a full and thorough understanding of what a nursing assistant entails as well as information on understanding and relating to the elderly, best practices, working in a variety of facilities, work ethics, food service protocol, safety measures and much more.
For individuals who have completed 100 hours of training before July 1, 1989, they are eligible to take the state test. There’s also an alternative pathway for those who were employed in a Massachusetts nursing home on December 19, 1989 provided they can supply proper documentation that they were employed in the same position for a minimum of 2 years prior to that date.
There’s also a route for individuals who have successfully completed at least 75 hours of clinical training in nursing school. They are also eligible to become a certified nursing assistant.
However, it is shown that those who have received the most recent training available tend to do the best on the exam.
No matter which path you choose, you have to pass the NACE exam in order to become a certified nursing assistant.
It’s administered by the American Red Cross and consists of two components. The skills section involves various scenarios where the student must act as a CNA and demonstrate his or her knowledge by providing appropriate and complete care. The test-taker must bring in an actor to act as a patient, but it can’t be a person who’s going to take the NACE exam any time in the near future.
The knowledge part of the exam is multiple choice where the test-taker has the option of selecting an oral exam and listening to the exam on CD.
The test is $93 for both sections and $103 if the oral version is requested.
Test results are sent out approximately three weeks later.
Prospective CNA’s apply for the examination and placement on the nurse aide registry at the same time. Applications can be downloaded from the American Cross Website. Students who attended an accredited program must provide copies of training certificates or a letter on official letterhead. Alternatively, other applicants can provide documentation from their place of employment.
Before embarking on a path to become a certified nursing assistant, it’s prudent that you understand that this isn’t a job for everybody. It can be demanding, stressful and at times, it can seem thankless.
Besides training and being on the registry, this job is suited for a particular type of person. Make sure that you love helping and serving others and can put their needs first. Despite the cons, this can be an extremely awarding and enjoyable career for the right person.