What is a CNA?
A CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant and is part of a group of people who assist the nursing staff with the patient’s needs and cares. They are considered a non-technical employee and are also called a nurse’s aides, orderlies, patient care technicians, or home health aides. Many times a being a CNA is a stepping stone to a career in the health care industry to becoming a LPN (license practical nurse) or a RN (registered nurse). When working as a CNA you will be under the supervision of an LPN or RN.
Job description of a CNA
A CNA is considered the ears and eyes of the nursing staff as they do a wide range of tasks to help keep where they are working, besides in a patient’s home, running at the optimum level. Some of the things that a CNA will do are to inform the nurses about the vital information of the patients periodically. More often than not a CNA will be the primary caretakers of many different patients that are terminal, aging, or recovering in a hospital or in a nursing home or helping patient’s live independently in their home with a CNA’s help. They will be the ones that take care of their toilet needs, personal hygiene, and anything else they can do in a non-technical field. In addition a CNA can help a patient with eating and walking; turning the patients to prevent bed sores, and gives emotional support to the family and patients. A CNA will also help with the sterilization of equipment after it has been used and help to keep the room clean to prevent the spread of any kind of infection. The complete job description covers a lot of things and also depends on where they are working.
A CNA may also work as a psychiatric nursing assistant and will work under therapists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists. They will work with emotionally distraught and mentally impaired patients. When working as a psychiatric nursing assistant they will socialize with the patients, accompany them to therapy sessions, note and record any behavioral patterns that could be important in treating a patient and letting the higher authorities know, and participate in recreational and educational activities with the patients. Before you can work as this type of CNA you have to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
How to become a CNA?
To become a CNA is to take the necessary classes to become a Certified Nursing Assistant but there are some places that will hire you without being certified. It is in your best interest to become certified because it means there are more and better job opportunities and a better salary. When taking a Certified Nursing Assistant class it can take you 6 weeks to several months to finish the course. A CNA will also have to complete 75 hours of training that has been state approved. To enroll in a CNA class you must have a high school diploma or a GED, pass a background check, and be at least 18 years of age.
Once you complete the required training you have to pass a state competency exam which consists of 2 parts. It will judge your conceptual knowledge and your practical skills. Once you have passed the exam you can be listed in the state’s Nurse Aide Registry. At this point you are considered a Certified Nursing Assistant.
There are even some employers who will hire someone and pay to have them take CNA classes while they are working for the employer. When taking advantage of this opportunity make sure if the employer expects you to work a set amount of time for them after being certified as this is how some work. Another way that you can take CNA classes is to go to the Red Cross who offers these classes. The most popular option is to check with vocational schools and community colleges in your town to see if they offer CNA classes. You can even take them online but if you choose this route make sure first how you will get in the state required 75 hours of training. If you are having trouble finding a school that offers CNA classes you can check with your State Nurse Aide Registry. You can even find out exactly what your state’s requirements are to become a Certified Nursing Assistant there. You can also do an online search or contact a professional nursing assistant organization to see what they recommend. Make sure that where you are taking your CNA classes that they are accredited so they will meet your state’s standards to be certified. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is the one who is in charge of accrediting the CNA programs.
A CNA can work in a hospital, day care center, nursing homes, clinics, physician’s office, or work for a service where they go to a patient’s home to care for them. Once you have become a Certified Nursing Assistant after taking the classes and passing the exam you can also work in a mental health facility.
Some of the things that a CNA might do on a daily basis will depend on where they are working but here are some of the things that they might do on a daily basis.
In a nursing home or hospital:
- Maintaining the patient’s records by writing in their temperature, pulse, weight, blood pressure, level of pain, and more and letting the nurse know what they are if they appear to be out of the normal range.
- Preventing bed sores by turning and reposition patients that are bed-ridden.
- In the hospital the CNA may help the nurse get a patient ready for surgery. This is an important part of a CNA’s daily job.
- Helping the patients exercise according to the schedule the physician has set up.
- In the hospital they may take the patients from their room to surgery, therapy sessions, physical therapy and then back to their room
- Storing the laundry in the right place
- Helping to regulate the number of visitors a patient has especially if the patient is very ill or recovering from an illness or recent surgery.
- In a nursing home it is the CNA’s responsibility to make sure that the patients get to social activities, meals, etc.
In a patient’s home, nursing home, and hospital:
- Helping them with their personal hygiene that can include brushing their teeth, shaving, bathing, changing their clothes, combing their hair, and in a hospital or nursing home changing the pads on their bed if they are incontinent.
- Tending to their toilet needs by helping them to the bathroom, and in nursing homes and hospitals it may mean empting the bed pan, catheter bags, etc.
- With housekeeping by keeping their rooms clean changing the bed linen etc. In a patient’s home they may just change the bed linens and may even wash them for the patient.
- In a patient’s home a CNA may help fix a meal for the patient, help them eat, and in a hospital and nursing home making sure that they are sitting up in bed and their meal tray is in front of them on a bedside tray so it is easy for them to eat. You may have to cut up their food, fix their drinks, etc.
This is just some of the many different jobs that a CNA might do during their shift. What hours a CNA would work depends on their working environment. They may work 8-12 hour shifts or even a 24 hour shift, weekends, nights, days, holidays, or split shifts. In a patient’s home they may have the night shift and stay overnight in the patient’s home. Some may even work PRN, which means that they will work as needed and on this type of schedule they would usually work in a patient’s home but can work in a hospital or nursing home. When working for an agency that has CNA’s working in a patient’s home you may visit more than one home each day and it may be a different home each day or the same one several days a week. It all depends on the patient’s needs
Being a CNA you need to have a pleasing personality, the compassion to take care of patients, have patience as sometimes the patient can be very crabby because they are hurting, lonely, etc. They also need to be able to lift and move more than their weight, and do not mind being on their feet for many hours a day. Being a CNA can also be hard on your feet and back especially if you are working in a nursing home where you may have to reposition many bed-ridden patients, help get them out of bed, etc. It can also be an emotionally draining job as it requires you to work with small children, the disabled, elderly, terminally ill and more.
Pros and cons of being a CNA
Before becoming a CNA, one must check the pros and cons that are present. This job can be very rewarding and pleasant on many occasions but at the same time it can become really demanding and stressful. The path to this career is not hard, but the job demanding can certainly make these professionals to struggle.
Before stepping forward with your decision and your choices, here are some pros and cons that will assist you in understanding better what a CNA has to do and how her or his daily attributions are. One of the pros that definitely pops into my mind right now is linked with the sense of being fulfilled for having the opportunity to contribute for the better of the society.
The expenses are not high especially if you want to pursue a career in becoming a certified nurse assistant. The training in which you enroll can last from 4 weeks and up to 6 weeks. If you don’t have the amount of money necessary for the fee, you can always find financial aid such as scholarships.
You’ll get plenty of job opportunities due to the increase in the number of the aging population and the sick people that are out there. They all need a nurse assistant and of course due to the safety and security that this job provides.
Working in this field of the healthcare system you are not restricted only to work in one facility such as hospitals but you’ll get plenty of settings from which you can choose. These include places such as retirement communities; hospice, clinics, day care centers and other that are in need for certificate nurse assistants. You even have the liberty to decide your own working hours, you can choose from a full-time job to a part-time job.
One of the major con in this career is that the salary is not that appealing and just a little above the wages that are seen as the minimum. What is worse is that this job can be very demanding, many times you’ll have to lift the patients from their beds and place them on their wheelchairs and clean their rooms. You will also need to take urine samples and other tasks that can be challenging.
Working with people is not a relaxed job especially since many differ. Sometimes you’ll have to face even physical abuse or verbal abuse from those who can be aggressive or worse. In cases of emergencies, nurse assistants can work for long hours and even weekends or holidays. There are occasions when you don’t have time to think about you, and you’ll get to feel in some days that there are not that many hours in a day for the tasks you have to accomplish.
CNA job growth
For the next ten years or so the job growth for CNAs is estimated with 20%-21%, estimation given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook for this field looks promising since there are plenty of job opportunities due to the continuous number of the aging population and also according to the sick people. With other words, they all need a CNA to look after them.
Another good reason why this percentage will remain is the fact that this job is provided with safety and security, and that can be one of the decisive factors in this economic system. Another fact that is linked with the opportunity is to choose a job that suits you from a variety of settings and facilities, so you are not limited in this way.
CNA job growth is fulfilled with many job opportunities and the work in this field is assured by the majority of cases that keep coming due to the nature of this job.
The CNA salary depends on how much experience you have, which state and city you work in, and your working environment.
Having no experience or less than 1 year experience can expect an average yearly salary that ranges from $20,000-$31,000. If you are a CNA with 1-4 years experience $22,000-$32,000 and with 5-9 years experience $19,000-$33,000.
- $21,000-$36,000 in New York
- $20,500-$35,000 in California
- $19,000-$34,000 in Florida
- $31,000-$50,000 in New York City
- $21,000-$38,000 in Seattle
- $18,000-$30,000 in St. Louis
By working environment or medical setting:
- $17,500-$29,000 working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in nursing homes
- $20,000-$31,000 working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in general hospitals
- $23,000-$36,000 working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a physician’s office, a military hospital, or private practice
On average the highest yearly CNA salary is $35,170 and the lowest average yearly CNA salary is $18,060 or less. Among nursing salaries, the CNA average yearly salary is above average. In addition, depending on their employer and the number of hours that they work, they may be entitled to paid vacation days, paid sick days, paid personal days, paid holidays or paid more for working holidays, life insurance and health insurance, social security, retirement, and more. If they work second or third shift they may also get a shift differential in pay that can be as little as fifty cents more an hour. When working for an agency that has their CNA’s working in various patient’s home they may also get a stipend for mileage that they travel to the patient’s homes.
Salary of a CNA in 2015
The salary that is gained by a CNA in United States is estimated at $25,425 per year more or less according to the type of institution in which she or he works. Comparative to other nursing specialists this salary is low and in some cases is considered at an entry-level in this health care system.
For 2015, the CNA salary is influenced by the years of experience, the type of facility and geographical area in which one is conducting its work, and the gender. But there are still good news with the number of demanding growing so are the job opportunities.
CNA Salary in 2016
The factors that influence and affect the salary of a CNA, in the United States, for the year 2016 are mainly based on the demographic factors such as higher and lower points present in the geographical location. It is also according to each state or city, the type of industry for which you are working for, the experience in the field and other.
The income has an average that usually is estimated to be around $25,430 per year, figures that can reach more or less, mainly according to the earlier presented factors. If we were to establish a comparison related to other nursing professionals, then we will reach the conclusion that is salary is quite low, and there are some cases in which it is seen as an entry-level wage in the health care system.
Taking a look at the working site, those professionals that work in general hospitals can expect at earnings that are comprised between $20,045 per year and up to $31,045 per year. At the same time, those who found a job in nursing homes can expect their earnings to be comprised between $17,650 per year and up to $29,060 per year.
According to the states, as reminded earlier the earnings will vary. For instance, if it would be for one to take a look in California, the incomes of CNAs are usually comprised between $20,560 per year and up to $35,045 per year while in Florida the established incomes usually are estimated to be comprised between $19,010 per year and up to $34,010 per year.
The highest and the lowest points in this field are different as well. The highest yearly earnings have an average of around $35,890 per year or even more while the lowest yearly CNA has an average that is estimated at around $18,067 per year or even lower.
The good news in this field is the benefits package that is usually granted according to the employer and the number of hours that a CNA is working. This leading to the fact that these professionals are entitled to paid holidays, paid sick days, life and even health insurance, retirement, social security and other.
CNA salary in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
- Canada—the average yearly salary for a CNA is CAD$25,495-CAD$40,878
- UK—the average yearly salary for a CNA is 12,121-25,200. The average yearly salary for a basic CNA is 11,639-25,033 with a bonus that can be as much as 325.25. For an entry-level position a CNA average yearly salary in United Kingdom of 13,846-24,242 and a bonus that could be as much as 1,166.
- Australia—the average yearly salary for a CNA is AU$33,858-AU$56,017 with a bonus up to AU$4,932.
Conclusion on CNA salary
Working as a CNA the average yearly salary is not all that high and it is possible that you can make as much or more working in a fast food restaurant as a manager or assistant manager, in a factory, or in an office. Working as a CNA is hard work because you are on your feet most of your shift, you have to work odd hours, weekends, and do some nasty jobs like cleaning up patients who are incontinent, have trouble feeding themselves, etc. But if you have a compassionate nature and like working with people who sometimes cannot take care of themselves and that is more important than how much money you would make then this is the job for you. It is also a job in which you can work full or part time and if you need to work nights it may be easy for you to get those hours working as a CNA.
- First Published Date: 16 June, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 June, 2016