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How to Choose the Right Certified Nursing Assistant College near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL Nursing Assistant taking man's vital signsNow that you have decided to enter the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of searching for CNA training classes near Birmingham AL. After you have attained your certification, you will launch a gratifying career in one of the fastest expanding occupations in healthcare within the United States. Even though it may well seem like a daunting task, it's imperative that you select the right course to acquire the appropriate training and education. Many future students start with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might also be debating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them from home. More concerning that alternative later. But performing your due diligence prior to choosing a training course consists of much more than comparing the cost or location. Such things as accreditation and the reputation of the school must additionally be taken into consideration. We will be addressing those subjects along with several other questions that you should be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to start with, let's talk a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Nursing Assistant

Birmingham AL Certified Nursing Assistant greeting man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants complete many duties in the Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations where they are employed. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but instead are certified. Because they are not licensed, they perform under the guidance and supervision of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their prime job role is to aid the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are numerous and diverse, and in a hospital setting might include:

  • Administering basic care to patients
  • Taking patient's vital signs
  • Keeping a record of patient's health status
  • Bathing and dressing patients
  • Serving and assisting patients with meals
  • Moving patients to other areas

CNAs may also work in Birmingham AL nursing homes or long term care facilities. In those settings, nursing assistants are more engaged in supporting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are identified as routine activities that most individuals carry out daily without assistance, such as eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants usually build more of a bond with these types of patients since they usually stay in the facilities for extended time frames. In many cases, they can become the channel between the patient and the balance of the medical staff because of their relationships with their charges. As a result, the CNA's knowledge can be an useful resource for planning the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Diplomas

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be received at community colleges or at Birmingham AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction directed and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's crucial to make sure that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the education is state certified. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.

Online CNA Classes

Birmingham AL student taking CNA online coursesAttending CNA classes online is becoming a more in demand way to receive training and attain a certificate or diploma in Birmingham AL. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Pertaining to tuition, many online CNA programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may 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). Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online CNA school will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

Why Become a CNA?

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 patients or residents of the medical agency or facility that she or he works for. CNAs also assist with ADLs such as eating, bathing and dressing. And they also have a role in keeping their patients comfortable and safe. As a team member, the CNA works directly under a nurse, most often an RN. Nurses depend on CNAs for patient vital signs, tests, and their reports 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 positioning, lifting, and moving patients during their work shift. CNAs spend most of their time on their feet because there is always something to do. But all in all, it’s the right job for people who love to keep busy and help patients as well as treat them with dignity and respect.

Questions to Ask CNA Colleges

Questions to Ask Birmingham AL CNA programsOnce you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous CNA schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see 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 agency. Aside from helping ensure that you get a premium education and employment in the Birmingham AL area, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification prerequisites for CNAs differ from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to meet the minimum certification requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to determine 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 schools you are looking at 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 unhappy 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 good reputation within the Birmingham AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for certification also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with local Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Pick the Best CNA Program

Birmingham AL Nursing Assistant with nursing home residentChoosing the best certified nursing assistant college is potentially the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are a number of variables that you should take into account when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this content, it is essential that you select a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Birmingham AL.