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

Northport AL Nursing Assistant taking patient'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 searching for CNA training classes near Northport AL. Once you have achieved your certification, you will begin a fulfilling career in one of the fastest increasing occupations in healthcare within the USA. Although it might seem like a challenging undertaking, it's imperative that you pick the right course to obtain the proper training and education. A number of prospective students start with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You may also be pondering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them from home. More concerning that alternative later. But performing your due diligence prior to deciding on a training course entails far more than comparing the price or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must similarly be taken into account. We will be addressing those topics along with various other questions that you need to be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to start 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 Nursing Assistant

Northport AL Certified Nursing Assistant greeting patient

Certified Nursing Assistants complete many functions in the Northport AL hospitals, practices and other medical organizations where they are employed. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather 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 main job role is to aid the licensed nurses that they work under. Their duties are many and varied, and in a hospital environment can include:

  • Administering basic services 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 areas

CNAs can also work in Northport AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more involved 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, including eating, dressing, or using the washroom. Nursing assistants commonly develop more of a bond with these types of patients since they commonly stay in the facilities for extensive periods of time. Often, they can become the pipeline between the patient and the balance of the medical staff due to their familiarity with their charges. As a result, the CNA's knowledge can be a significant resource for planning the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Programs

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at community colleges or at Northport AL vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to three months, leading to 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 have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of training mandated and that every state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but additionally 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 certain that the education is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional requirements as well.

CNA Online Schools

Northport AL student attending CNA online classesAttending CNA schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire a certificate or diploma in Northport AL. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online CNA programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online CNA program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

Why Become a CNA?

A Certified Nursing Assistant is a critical part of any Northport AL medical organization. In fact, medical care wouldn’t be possible without CNAs. The CNA is charged with the immediate care of residents or patients of the medical facility or agency that he or she works for. CNAs also help with ADLs such as eating, bathing and dressing. And they also have the responsibility of keeping their patients safe and comfortable. As a member of a team, the CNA reports to a nurse, typically an RN. Nurses rely on CNAs for patient vital signs, tests, and their feedback about each patient’s condition. CNAs also manage scheduling with other medical professionals such as speech, occupational or physical therapists. The job can be physically demanding, including lifting, positioning, and moving patients during their shift. CNAs spend the majority of their time on their feet because they always have a task at hand. But all in all, it’s the right profession for those who like to keep busy and help patients while treating them with dignity and respect.

Questions to Ask CNA Schools

Questions to Ask Northport AL CNA programsOnce you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you receive a premium education and employment in the Northport AL area, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered 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.  Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • 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 also. Also, check with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Northport 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 colleges 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Northport AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with nearby Northport AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Pick the Right CNA Training

Northport AL CNA with assisted living patientPicking the right certified nursing assistant school is probably the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of variables that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you select a CNA college and a certificate program that are each accredited and have outstanding 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 desire to succeed, you can become a CNA in Northport AL.