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How to Choose the Right Certified Nursing Assistant Course near Opelika Alabama

Opelika AL Certified Nursing Assistant taking patient's vital signsNow that you have made a decision to practice in the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to start the process of finding CNA classes near Opelika AL. Once you have attained your certification, you will begin a rewarding career in one of the most rapidly expanding occupations in health care within the Country. Though it might seem like a daunting task, it's essential that you select the right program to obtain the appropriate training and education. A number of future students begin with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You might additionally be debating 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 doing your due diligence before choosing a program consists of far more than comparing the price or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into consideration. We will be addressing those topics along with a few other questions that you should be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's talk a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the type of instruction and credentials that are available.

The Job of a CNA

Opelika AL Nursing Assistant helping man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many functions in the Opelika AL hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities where they work. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Because they are not licensed, they function under the direction and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their prime job role is to assist the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are many and varied, and in a hospital environment may include:

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

CNAs may also practice in Opelika AL nursing homes or long term care facilities. In those environments, nursing assistants are more engaged in aiding patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that most individuals carry out daily without help, for example eating, dressing, or using the washroom. Nursing assistants usually develop more of a bond with these types of patients since they often remain in the facilities for prolonged time frames. In many cases, they may end up being the conduit between the patient and the rest of the medical staff due to their relationships with their charges. Consequently, the CNA's knowledge can be a valued resource for planning the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Certificates

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at community colleges or at Opelika AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and each state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the course you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training is state approved. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional prerequisites as well.

Online CNA Programs

Opelika AL student attending CNA online classesEnrolling in CNA schools online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and acquire a certificate or diploma in Opelika AL. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Pertaining to tuition, some online CNA programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online CNA program will make it easier 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 whether to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many 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 manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you receive a premium education and employment in the Opelika AL area, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each 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 Opelika AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA schools you are considering 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 Opelika AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local Opelika AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Right Nurse Assistant Program

Opelika AL Nursing Assistant with nursing home residentPicking the best certified nursing assistant program is probably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you select a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding 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 Opelika AL.