Are you looking to switch careers or to pick up a second job?
Have you thought about a career in the medical field?
Now, we know what you may be thinking, “Doesn’t it take years and years of schooling to get a job in the medical field?”
While that may be the case for doctors, it certainly isn’t the case for every career in the medical field.
In fact, with some medical careers, you don’t even need a degree.
For example, you can work as a CNA, which is a certified nurse assistant.
How do you get into this career field?
Check out this guide to learn how to become a CNA.
In This Post:
What Is a CNA?
First things first, what exactly is a CNA?
While CNAs don’t diagnose conditions or make medical decisions, their work is integral to the well-being of patients.
For example, if a patient needs help with bathing, a CNA will assist them with that task. CNAs provide patients with the fundamental care they need for daily living. Here are some of the daily responsibilities of a CNA:
- Bathe, feed, and dress patients
- Take vital signs: Sometimes, CNAs will be responsible for taking patients’ blood pressure and temperature
- Make beds, serve meals, and keep rooms tidy (this can mean changing soiled sheets and cleaning out bedpans)
- Assist with some medical procedures
- Set up medical equipment
- Answer calls for help
- Observe changes in a patient’s behavior or condition
While completing these tasks, you’ll have the chance to spend regular, one on one time with patients.
A lot of the initial steps involved in a patient’s visit fall under the responsibility of the CNA. This means that it’ll be your responsibility to make a positive first impression on behalf of your medical team.
Additionally, not only does working as a CNA allow you to provide better care for patients, but it also serves as a springboard for other medical careers.
With your experience as a CNA, you can move onto a career as an LPN (licensed practice nurse) or RN (registered nurse).
How to Become a CNA
Now that you know a bit about the role of a CNA, let’s talk about how to become a CNA.
Few careers in the medical field offer the fast-track to a career that you’ll find with the CNA career. While there is a fair amount of studying and coursework, if you have your high school diploma, you can become a CNA in less than a year.
Because of this, it’s an extremely attractive option for those who want a career in the medical field but don’t have the time or money to put into full-time schooling.
These are the steps you need to take:
Earn a High School Diploma
First things first, you need to earn a high school diploma.
If you don’t have a high school diploma, don’t sweat it, as you can go through the steps to earn your GED.
Complete State-Approved CNA Training
After you’ve earned your high school diploma, it’s time to complete a state-approved CNA training course.
The exact educational requirements to become a CNA vary by state, so be sure to check with the regulations in your area for full details on how to become a CNA.
Community colleges typically offer CNA courses, as do nursing homes, high schools, and hospitals. You can also take CNA courses online, which is a great option for those who have a tight schedule.
However, you’ll need to complete a short-period of in-person, on-the-job training.
Once you find a program that’s state-approved, you can enroll in classes and begin your education.
Depending on the institution and the schedule, most programs take anywhere from one month to four months to complete.
The exact number of total hours you spend in the classroom will vary by state. However, most programs require 75-100 hours of in-classroom training, plus anywhere from 15-40 hours of clinical training.
During your coursework, you will study subjects like medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.
However, the courses won’t dive as deep as you would in a college classroom. Instead, you’ll get a brief introduction into each subject so that you’re prepared to communicate and interact with those in the medical profession.
Complete In-Person Clinicals
In addition to classroom work, you’ll also be required to do some in-person clinicals.
During this phase of your education, you’ll work under the guidance of a medical professional, typically, a registered nurse.
This training is very important, as it gives you direct experience in the types of tasks you’ll be performing as a certified CNA. During your clinical work, you’ll typically help nurses take vital signs, change bedding, and provide patients with comfort.
Licensing and Certification
After you finish your in-person clinical work, it’s time to take your certification exams.
The exact type of exam you take will depend on the state you live in, however, your test will likely involve a combination of multiple-choice questions as well as manual testing skills.
The multiple-choice section of the test will cover topics such as medical ethics. infection control, data collection, and safety.
For the manual skills portion of the exam, you’ll be asked to perform the skills you’ll be doing as a CNA. These can include such things as repositioning a bed or bathing a patient.
Once you pass the CNA exam, you’ll be placed in the state registry. Then, congrats! You’ll be officially eligible to work as a CNA.
You may also choose to undergo specialized certification, such as STNA certification. What is an STNA certification? Learn more here.
How to Become a CNA: Wrap up
Now that you know how to become a CNA, it’s time to get started. Before you know it, you’ll be working in this career field!
And, if you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more career guides like this one.