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How to Choose the Right Nursing Assistant School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL Certified Nursing Assistant taking patient'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 finding CNA classes near Decatur AL. As soon as you have obtained your certification, you will begin a rewarding career in one of the fastest expanding occupations in healthcare within the USA. Even though it may well seem like a daunting task, it's important that you select the ideal program to acquire the proper training and education. A number of potential students start with the two most essential qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might additionally be pondering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them at home. More on that option later. But completing your due diligence before picking a school requires far more than comparing the cost or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into account. We will be covering those issues together with several other questions that you should be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the kind of instruction and credentials that are offered.

The Role of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Decatur AL CNA assisting patient

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many functions in the Decatur AL hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations where they are employed. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but instead are certified. Since they are not licensed, they perform under the guidance and management of either a licensed LPN or RN. Plus as nursing assistants, their prime job duty is to help the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are numerous and diverse, and in a hospital environment can include:

  • Furnishing basic services to patients
  • Checking patient's vital signs
  • Maintaining a record of patient's health status
  • Cleaning and dressing patients
  • Serving and assisting patients with meals
  • Conveying patients to other rooms

CNAs can also work in Decatur AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more engaged in assisting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that the majority of people accomplish daily without aid, such as eating, dressing, or using the washroom. Nursing assistants usually develop more of a bond with these patients since they usually stay in the facilities for extended time frames. Often, they may end up being the pipeline between the patient and the balance of the medical staff because of their familiarity with their charges. As a result, the CNA's expertise can be a significant resource for preparing the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Certificates

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at community colleges or at Decatur AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction 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 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 minimal amount of instruction required and that every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the course 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 sure that the training course is state approved. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other requirements as well.

CNA Online Schools

Decatur AL woman taking online CNA trainingEnrolling in CNA schools online is growing into a more popular way to obtain instruction and acquire a certificate or diploma in Decatur AL. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for some students. Pertaining to tuition, many online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online CNA program will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

What to Ask CNA Colleges

Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many CNA schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the field.

  • 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 ensure that you receive an excellent education and employment in the Decatur AL area, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification prerequisites for CNAs are different from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Decatur 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 programs 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 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 verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Decatur AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification as well. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Learn How to Choose a CNA School

Enroll in the Best Nurse Assistant Program

Picking the right certified nursing assistant college is arguably the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this content, it is important that you select a CNA school and a certificate program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Decatur AL.