The certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or medical caretaker helpers have a critical position in the medicinal services industry. These experts work under the immediate supervision of a certificationed nurture (LN), or a certificationed pragmatic medical caretaker (LPN) to give care to the patients. They are responsible for ambulating, taking vital signs, and providing personal care to patients like feeding, bathing, toileting, walking, providing emotional support and so on. They can work in hospitals, nursing homes, long term care facilities, or even provide services to home bound patients.
The nurse aides are the ones who spend most of the time with the patients and should know how to take care of them. They should know when to call for help and what first aide should be given to patients till the time a nurse or a doctor arrives. They should also know the legal aspects. This will enable them to know how they can avoid getting into trouble, and being sued by residents or patients.
A good training program enables them not just to take care of the patients with various health problems, they also come to know various procedures like infection control, handling equipments, how to use the Heimlich maneuver or the transfer gait belt and so on. They also learn to prepare the diet charts for the patients as they are responsible to feed them.
The nurse aides serve as an important link between the patients and the doctors and nurses. They have to be very alert regarding the health of the patients. As they are responsible for taking the vital signs of the patients, they should recognize what situation should be called an emergency and a doctor should be called for.
Another skill that the nurse aides should have is excellent communication skills. This is because they have to spend a lot of time dealing with the patients and interacting with their families. Not all the patients are easy to deal with. The CNA certification programs trains them how to interact with them and what they should do with patients who refuse treatment.
The duration of a CNA certification course may vary from one state to another; it may last from a couple of weeks to about six months. The federal law has made it mandatory for various organizations to impart training to CNAs for a minimum 75 hours. However, this duration varies from one state to another; most of the states feel that 75 hours is very less for the training and have more numbers of hours of training. The training is divided into classroom instructions and skills rotation, in which the practical sessions let the students practice what they have learnt in class.
Most of the colleges and schools have some criteria for candidates to get accepted into a training program. These students should know how to read, write and speak in English and should know how to solve basic maths. They should also not have been involved in any criminal record for being accused of felony or theft, consuming drugs or taking treatment for them. This is because a clean background is a criterion for getting certification and those who do not have one, are disqualified from getting a CNA certification.
After the completion of the training program as a nurse aide, the candidates have to pass a competency test. This consists of two parts, the written test and the skills test. The written test has several multiple choice questions. The number of questions asked in this test may be different. In order to pass this test, the candidates have to score at least 70 to 80 percent. For the skills test, they are asked to know the various procedures that they have learnt in the practical sessions of the training. Thus, those who undergo the training must have a very thorough knowledge of what they were taught in the classroom. Otherwise, they will not pass the certification exam. In most of the states, the candidates get about three chances to pass this test, otherwise they have to retake the training. In some states, they have to retake the training along with an additional course.
Once the candidates get their certification, it remains valid for about 2 years in most of the states. The CNAs should renew their certification before it lapses. In this case, most of the states require the candidates to retake the certification test and also pay the fee for it. Some states do not have any fee for renewing the certification, but some states charge a nominal fee for it. The renewal process in most of the states is quite easy. If CNAs want to transfer their certification from one state to another, it is easy for them to do so if their certification is active in their state, or else, they have to appear for the competency test and renew their certification.