CNA Online Programs
CNA positions are currently in high demand and the trend does not show any signs of slowing down. What’s more, CNA online programs are a great opportunity for those contemplating a vocational change. They are accessible to most people and have enough flexibility for busy adults and parents to take them.
On the other hand, to qualify for a CNA program, one has to meet certain criteria. And more importantly, have the right mindset for the job. Read on for a detailed guide on online CNA programs and certification.
WHAT IS A CNA?
CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. CNAs are in direct contact with patients to whom they provide immediate care. The type of care varies depending on a patient’s needs.They usually take a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate and help with personal hygiene and feeding – but the job is not limited to these duties. More importantly, CNAs often work in teams and liaise between the LPNs or RNs and the patients.
What Degree Is Required to be a CNA?
You need a GED or high school diploma and a CNA certificate. The certificate is obtained after you complete a training program and pass the CNA certification exam.
Types of CNA Training
Traditional CNA Training Programs
Institutions such as community colleges, hospitals, and vocational schools offer CNA classes. You can also get traditional CNA training from the Red Cross.
Depending on the institution, the duration, learning format, and curriculum may vary. If you go the community college route, the program duration is between 6 and 16 weeks, during which you learn basic nursing skills and a variety of nursing services.
Hospital training lasts between 4 and 8 weeks where you can expect a more hands-on approach. You come in contact with the patients during a hospital program.
Online CNA Training Programs
Online CNA courses are equivalent to traditional courses. The only thing that’s different is the delivery method. Namely, you’ll be attending virtual classes rather than in person.
This would give you more flexibility when it comes to studying time. But you’d have to make it a point to adhere to homework and assignment deadlines like in any other training program.
Certain parts of online CNA programs happen on site since it’d require a certain level of physical skills to become a CNA. However, nursing is a regulated industry and online CNA training hasn’t been approved in all states.
IS AN ONLINE CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT PROGRAM RIGHT FOR ME?
An inner desire to help those in need is a basic requirement to become a successful CNA. It wouldn’t hurt to have good communications skills and a generally positive attitude combined with a sense of humor. Remember, the patients need to feel comfortable and safe while they are in your care.
Being a team player is crucial because a CNA needs to relay key patient information to senior team members like physicians and licensed nurses. Good physical fitness shouldn’t be overlooked either. You’ll be constantly on the move and helping your patients walk or get up, so a certain level of stamina and strength is required.
Getting Your Degree Online
Do your research and find a valid online CNA course. If you have any doubts, you can check with the nursing board in your state. It’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t expect to complete the entire course online.
You are more likely to participate in a hybrid program. This means you submit homework and take some classes online. But you are still required to be physically present for lab assignments and other practical classes. The hybrid approach shouldn’t worry you too much.
These online programs are designed for career changers, parents, and working adults. You should be able to take classes at any time of the day and the programs may last up to 4 months.
After you pass the CNA certification exam and receive a degree, you can go job hunting.
CNA Program Admissions Requirement
You need a GED or high school diploma to be admitted to a CNA program. There are programs that also require previous health care experience, for example, a prior job as a hospital aide.
The admission requirements can also include proof of age and immunization, physical exam, CPR and First Aid certificate, driver’s license, and TB testing.
The current unemployment rate for certified nursing assistants is at about 5.2%. However, the demand for professional caregivers is on the rise. The following years should bring about 164,000 new CNA jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected 11% increase indicates that the demand is trending higher than the average.
Those who require financial aid to participate in a CNA program can rest easy. There is an option to apply for the Workforce Investment Act program which may allow you to get free CNA training. The requirements include unemployment, lack of skills due to insufficient training, and low income.
Some county and community colleges also offer various Continuing Education Certificate programs. These are state or local government-funded programs which cover the entire cost of CNA and similar medical-related training.
There are also different scholarships, grants, and student loans that can help you fund a CNA program.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH A
CAREER PATHS FOR A CNA
The primary job of nurse assistants is to deliver basic care and help with patient hygiene. This includes bathing, toilet duty, eating, and dressing. Nurse assistants also help with patient transfers and mobility. In addition, they might also take vital signs, but that’d depend on their place of work.
Nurse aids or medical aids (MAs) perform some administrative tasks like checking in patients, fetching medical histories, preparing charts, etc. They also take vital signs. The NA also provides assistance to nursing practitioners and doctors – this task is done by nurse assistants as well.
Home Health Aide
As the name suggests, home health aides (HHAs) are responsible for medical assistance at a patient’s home or in a retirement community. They work with terminally ill patients and those who need supervision while recovering from surgery or an illness.
HHAs monitor a patient’s recovery/condition and alarm senior medical staff in case of unexpected changes. The tasks usually include checking temperature and other vital signs, medication help, and assisting the patients with dressing. Home health aides also assists patients with various mobility aids.
However, HHAs also have to provide the necessary companionship and perform simple non-medical tasks during a patient’s vulnerable period. This can include running errands for patients, preparing meals, and developing a friendly relationship with them.Home health aides can have multiple patients that they visit every day or week but they work with only one patient at a time. The time spent with each of the patients depends on their needs and medical condition.
State-Tested Nurse Aide
State-tested nurse aides (STNAs) have the same responsibilities as nurse assistants and nurse aids. And they work under the supervision of registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. However, STNAs have completed a nurse aide program regulated by a state’s department of health.
COMMON EMPLOYERS FOR CNAS
CNAs who find work in a hospital can expect a fast-paced environment and need to be ready to work in a large team. Previous work experience is required in some hospitals so you might need to look for work elsewhere before applying at a hospital. It might take some time before you land a hospital job since there is usually a lower turnover.
Long-Term Care Clinics
Long-term care clinics provide service to the elderly and those who are seriously ill. The patients stay in the clinic for months or even years and require 24/7 care. CNA’s are usually on the front line of delivering the necessary care and attention to the patients.
Home Health Agencies
These agencies give you a chance to work with one patient at a time, usually in the settings of their home. You will be performing the duties of a home health aide. The duties, of course, involve activities of daily living (ADLs) and some medical care depending on the patient’s needs.
Salaries for CNAs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic, the median annual salary of a CNA is $27,520. This translates to an hourly wage is $13.23 on average, but it can go up to $18.57.
The salary also depends on the type of facility you work at and the geographical location. The pay is likely to be higher in big cities than smaller cities and rural areas. Likewise for states and regions with higher costs of living vis-à-vis those with lower costs of living.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM CNA CLASSES ONLINE
In general, students complete an online CNA program in about 12 weeks. These programs also involve clinical experience, virtual and on-site training, and assignments which get the participants ready for the examination.
Online CNA classes are more flexible and accessible compared to their traditional counterparts. They use synchronous and asynchronous learning strategies. For example, video lectures and real-time chats are considered synchronous, while the file-sharing systems within are asynchronous.
It's important to stress that accredited online programs deliver the same quality of training and education as on-site CNA training. The difference is that you take the classes on a learning platform. And online CNA programs also come with similar practical training as offline programs.
The duration and terms and conditions may vary depending on the provider and state requirements. So it’s best to take a close look at the CNA programs that are available in your state.
TYPICAL CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE CNA PROGRAM
The curriculum focuses on the skills necessary to provide the best patient care. The individual courses usually include infection control, anatomy, and physiology. The classes also address patient hygiene and wound dressing. But there’s more.
The curriculum imparts knowledge about checking and documenting a patient’s vital signs. Future CNAs also learn about medical administration related to discharging and admitting patients. Online programs also focus on communication skills that are crucial when interacting with patients and their families.
Besides the theoretical knowledge, the clinical part of online courses includes hands-on CPR skills, vital sign checking, body part identification, and wound dressing. Overall, online CNA programs are designed to help the attendees pass the certification exam (oral component included).
How to Find Quality CNA Training
Is the Program State-Approved?
State-approval is the first thing you should be looking for in any CNA training program. The approval means that the school adheres to all relevant state and federal criteria and laws. It is also a testament to the curriculum’s quality and makes you eligible to take the state-run CNA examination.
There is a list of approved CNA programs for each state so make sure to check the list before you enroll. Otherwise, most states won’t let you take the exam if you’ve attended a non-approved program.
How do I Know if a Program is Accredited?
Checking the accreditation status of a CNA program is easy. Go to the website of the nursing board in your state and look up the list of accredited programs.
The Higher Learning Commission and invigilators that specialize in nursing are the usual CNA program accreditors. The entire process is formal and gives an accredited program instant credibility.
The standards are related to a few crucial CNA aspects. The accrediting commission inspects the curriculum, staff qualifications, student resources and outcomes, as well as student-to-staff ratio. It’s worth noting that the accreditation is not mandatory and some schools don’t go for it.
A lack of accreditation is often a red flag signaling the program is not worth your money or effort. Going with an accredited program ensures you are getting the proper training and the best job prospects.
How does Certification Work with Online Programs?
Like traditional CNA programs, the online ones get you ready for a state CNA exam, which assesses your knowledge, judgment, and nursing skills.
There are 50 multiple choice questions to test your knowledge and the intuition questions posit hypothetical situations that require your proper response.
The other part of the exam tests your practical nursing skills. All states have their own CNA certification assessment that you have to pass.
Does the Program Offer Local Clinical Training Practicums?
Local clinical training practicums are crucial to passing the CNA exam and getting certified. Accredited online programs include a practicum to give you a chance to apply the theoretical knowledge.
Practicums are usually well-structured and supervised to ensure you are getting the right skills for the job. You might be required to complete up to 100 hours of clinical training before you take the exam, but this is different for each state.
Practical training is usually done in different healthcare facilities like nursing homes, hospitals, and medical offices. Students who participate in online programs take their practicum at an approved facility nearest to their location.
Are Credits Transferable?
There are at least two reasons for considering if CNA credits are transferable. The first one is a career upgrade. In other words, if you want to continue your education and get a higher nursing degree, you are usually allowed to transfer credits.
This means you won’t need to take the classes that you’ve already taken and most colleges transfer credits based on your certification. On the other hand, things are a bit different if you wish to transfer your credits from one state to another.
You’d have to take a closer look at the state’s CNA requirements and consult with the nursing board.
CNA Certification Exam Prep
Steps for Taking the CNA Certification Exam
The steps to successfully passing the CNA exam can be divided into three parts. First, you need to start preparing early. This means practicing for the exam while still attending the classes. There are study guides and mock tests available. They can give you a better understanding of the exam’s requirements and steer your studying efforts in the right direction.
You also need to schedule the exam in a timely manner. Talk to the course provider or your instructor to get an exam date that is closest to the completion date of the course. This ensures your knowledge is still fresh and you have the highest chances of passing the exam.
Lastly, you need to take the CNA exam. The exam structure is as previously described. However, it’s worth noting that you have to score above 70% on the written and clinical exam to pass. And you get the exam results the same day.
You can start working as a CAN as soon as you pass the test. Otherwise, each state has different rules on how often and how many times can you retake the exam.
CPR and First Aid Certification
Among other things, the requirements that make you eligible for CNA training often include CPR and First Aid certifications. Therefore, it’s best to obtain these certificates before you enroll.
You can also take a CPR or First Aid course online. These courses take much less time compared to CNA courses and there are more than a few options to choose from. You should consider if the courses/ certificates are accredited on the national level. And it pays to ask if the CNA training provider requires any particular CPR and First Aid certifications.
Now you should have a better understanding of what it takes to become a CNA. And if you are considering it as a future career, CNA online programs may be the best way of achieving your goal.The program requirements are minimal and you can easily join even if you are struggling with funds. But always keep in mind that you need to select an accredited program that has a reputable track record.