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

Florence AL Nursing Assistant taking man's blood pressureOnce 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 classes near Florence AL. As soon as you have earned your certification, you will begin a gratifying career in one of the fastest expanding occupations in medical care within the Country. Though it may seem like a daunting endeavor, it's important that you select the right course to obtain the necessary training and education. A number of future students start with the two most essential qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You may also be considering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them at home. More on that alternative later. But completing your due diligence prior to deciding on a school requires much more than comparing the price or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must similarly be considered. We will be addressing those issues along with various other questions that you need to be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But first, let's talk a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the type of instruction and credentials that are offered.

The Role of a Nursing Assistant

Florence AL CNA helping man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants complete many duties in the Florence AL hospitals, practices and other health care facilities where they work. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but instead are certified. Since they are not licensed, they function under the guidance and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. Plus as nursing assistants, their primary job function is to assist the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are numerous and diverse, and in a hospital setting might include:

  • Furnishing basic care to patients
  • Taking patient's vital signs
  • Keeping a record of patient's health status
  • Cleaning and dressing patients
  • Serving and assisting patients with meals
  • Transferring patients to other rooms

CNAs may also work in Florence AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more engaged in helping patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that most individuals accomplish daily without aid, such as eating, dressing, or using the bathroom. Nursing assistants usually develop more of a bond with these types of patients since they typically reside in the facilities for prolonged time frames. Often, they can end up being the channel between the patient and the balance of the medical staff thanks to their relationships with their charges. Consequently, the CNA's expertise can be a valuable resource for preparing the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Training

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at community colleges or at Florence AL vocational or trade schools. The length 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 instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction mandated and every state has its own prerequisites. So it's crucial to make certain that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state certified. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.

Online CNA Classes

Florence AL student taking CNA online trainingAttending CNA programs online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and earn a certificate or diploma in Florence AL. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Regarding tuition, some online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA training program will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your active schedule.

Things to Ask CNA Degree Programs

Now that you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous CNA schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • 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 confirm that you get an excellent education and employment in the Florence AL area, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered 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.  Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. 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 call some Florence 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Florence AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best 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 requirements for certification too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with nearby Florence AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Learn How to Choose a CNA School

Pick the Right Nurse Assistant School

Choosing the ideal certified nursing assistant school is perhaps the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you must think about when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this content, it is important that you pick a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list 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 certified nursing assistant in Florence AL.