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How to Choose the Right Certified Nursing Assistant School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL Certified Nursing Assistant taking man's vital signsNow that you have decided to enter the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to start the process of finding CNA classes near Decatur AL. After you have obtained your certification, you will begin a gratifying career in one of the most rapidly increasing occupations in medical care within the United States. Although it may seem like a challenging endeavor, it's important that you choose the ideal course to obtain the necessary training and education. A number of prospective students start with the two most essential qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You might also be contemplating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them at home. More on that option later. But performing your due diligence prior to deciding on a school involves far more than comparing the tuition or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must similarly be taken into consideration. We will be addressing those subjects as well as various other questions that you need to be asking before you register in a CNA school. But first, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the kind of instruction and credentials that are offered.

The Duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Decatur AL Certified Nursing Assistant assisting man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many functions in the Decatur AL hospitals, clinics and other health facilities where they are employed. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Since they are not licensed, they work under the guidance and supervision of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their prime job role is to help the licensed nurses that they work under. Their duties are numerous and varied, and in a hospital environment might include:

  • Furnishing basic care 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
  • Moving patients to other areas

CNAs may also practice in Decatur AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more involved in aiding patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are characterized as routine activities that most people perform daily without aid, such as eating, dressing, or using the washroom. Nursing assistants typically develop more of a bond with these patients since they commonly reside in the facilities for extensive periods of time. Frequently, they can end up being the channel between the patient and the balance of the medical staff because of their familiarity with their charges. As a result, the CNA's knowledge can be a beneficial resource for preparing the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Training

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 Decatur AL vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training mandated and that every state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.

Online CNA Programs

Decatur AL student attending CNA online classesAttending CNA classes online is becoming a more popular way to obtain instruction and attain a certificate or diploma in Decatur AL. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend college for some students. Regarding tuition, some online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of 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 little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online CNA training program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your active schedule.

Things to Ask CNA Courses

Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.

  • 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you receive a premium education and employment in the Decatur AL area, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification criteria 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 essential that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum certification requirements for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, 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 contact some Decatur 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 programs 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Decatur 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for certification too. Check if the schools have associations with local Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Right CNA Program

Decatur AL Nursing Assistant with nursing home patientDeciding on the ideal certified nursing assistant degree program is perhaps the most important first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of factors that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is critical that you select a CNA college and a certificate program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a CNA in Decatur AL.