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How to Enroll In the Right Certified Nursing Assistant School near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL Certified Nursing Assistant taking patient's blood pressureNow that you have made a decision to practice in the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of finding CNA classes near Birmingham AL. Once you have obtained your certification, you will be starting a rewarding career in one of the most rapidly growing occupations in health care within the United States. Although it may well seem like a complicated undertaking, it's important that you pick the right school to receive the appropriate training and education. Many future students begin with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might additionally be contemplating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them from home. More regarding that alternative later. But doing your due diligence prior to choosing a program entails far more than comparing the price or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must additionally be taken into account. We will be addressing those topics along with several other questions that you should be asking before you register in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the type of instruction and credentials that are offered.

The Duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Birmingham AL CNA assisting man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants complete many jobs in the Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics and other health facilities where they work. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Given that they are not licensed, they function under the direction and management of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their primary job function is to aid the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are many and diverse, and in a hospital setting may include:

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

CNAs might also work in Birmingham AL nursing homes or long term care facilities. In those environments, nursing assistants are more engaged in supporting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that most people carry out daily without assistance, including eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants usually develop more of a bond with these patients since they often remain in the facilities for prolonged time periods. Frequently, they may end up being the pipeline between the patient and the rest of the medical staff due to their familiarity with their charges. Because of this, the CNA's expertise can be a beneficial resource for planning the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Certificates

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at community colleges or at Birmingham AL vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction required and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure 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 other prerequisites as well.

CNA Online Programs

Birmingham AL woman taking online CNA trainingEnrolling in CNA training online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction 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 number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend school for some students. Regarding tuition, a number of online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your work and family commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online CNA program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

Should You Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A CNA is a critical part of any Birmingham AL medical organization. As a matter of fact, medical care couldn’t happen without CNAs. The CNA is charged with the immediate care of residents or patients of the healthcare 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 a role in keeping their patients safe and comfortable. As a member of a team, the CNA reports to a nurse, typically a Registerd Nurse. Nurses rely on CNAs for patient vital signs, tests, and their feedback about each patient’s condition. CNAs also coordinate schedules with other healthcare professionals such as speech, occupational or physical therapists. The work can be physically demanding, including lifting, positioning, and transferring patients during their work 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 perfect profession for those who like to keep busy and help patients as well as treat them with respect and dignity.

Questions to Ask CNA Colleges

Questions to Ask Birmingham AL CNA programsOnce you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other programs.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education and employment in the Birmingham AL area, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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.  Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum certification requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Birmingham AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased 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 favorable reputation within the Birmingham AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification also. Ask if the schools have associations with local Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Pick the Right Nurse Assistant School

Birmingham AL Nursing Assistant with assisted living residentSelecting the best certified nursing assistant training program is potentially the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed within this article, it is critical that you choose a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Birmingham AL.