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How to Select the Best Certified Nursing Assistant School near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL Nursing Assistant taking man's vital signsOnce you have made a decision to practice in the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of searching for CNA training classes near Birmingham AL. As soon as you have obtained your certification, you will be starting a gratifying career in one of the most rapidly growing positions in health care within the USA. Though it may well seem like a daunting endeavor, it's imperative that you select the best school to receive the necessary training and education. Many prospective students begin with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You may additionally be contemplating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them from home. More about that option later. But performing your due diligence before selecting a program requires far more than comparing the price or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must additionally be taken into consideration. We will be covering those topics together with several other questions that you need to be asking before you register in a CNA school. But to start with, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the kind of instruction and credentials that are available.

The Role of a CNA

Birmingham AL Certified Nursing Assistant assisting man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants perform many duties in the Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations where they work. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but instead are certified. Because they are not licensed, they perform under the direction and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. Plus as nursing assistants, their main job role is to help the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are numerous and varied, and in a hospital setting can include:

  • Administering basic services to patients
  • Reading patient's vital signs
  • Maintaining a record of patient's health status
  • Bathing and dressing patients
  • Serving and assisting patients with meals
  • Transporting patients to other rooms

CNAs may also work in Birmingham AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those settings, nursing assistants are more engaged in supporting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that the majority of people accomplish daily without help, for example eating, dressing, or using the bathroom. Nursing assistants usually develop more of a bond with these patients since they usually stay in the facilities for extended time periods. Often, they can end up being the channel between the patient and the balance of the medical staff due to their familiarity with their charges. As a result, the CNA's expertise can be an useful resource for planning the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at community colleges or at Birmingham AL vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and each state has its specific requirements. So it's crucial to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but likewise those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course is state approved. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional requirements as well.

CNA Online Schools

Birmingham AL student attending online CNA coursesAttending CNA schools online is becoming a more favored way to receive training and earn a certificate or diploma in Birmingham AL. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend school for some students. Concerning tuition, many online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA school will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a CNA?

A Certified Nursing Assistant is a critical part of any Birmingham AL healthcare team. In fact, health care wouldn’t be possible without CNAs. The CNA is responsible for the front line care of residents or patients of the medical facility or agency that she or he works for. CNAs also help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing and eating. And they also have the responsibility of keeping their patients comfortable and safe. As a member of a team, the CNA works directly under a nurse, typically an RN. Nurses rely on CNAs for patient vital signs, tests, and their reports about the condition of each of their patients. CNAs also coordinate schedules with other medical professionals such as physical, occupational, or speech therapists. The job can be physically demanding, including lifting, positioning, and moving patients during their shift. CNAs spend the majority of their day or evening on their feet because they always have a task at hand. But all in all, it’s the right job for people who love to keep busy and help people as well as treat them with dignity and respect.

Things to Ask CNA Courses

What to Ask Birmingham AL CNA training programsOnce you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you obtain an excellent education and employment in the Birmingham AL area, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification requirements for CNAs vary from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, check with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA colleges you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Birmingham AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification too. Ask if the schools have associations with local Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Best CNA School

Birmingham AL CNA with assisted living patientChoosing the ideal certified nursing assistant college is potentially the most critical first step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are many aspects that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have emphasized in this post, it is important that you pick a CNA school and a certificate program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a certified nursing assistant in Birmingham AL.