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How to Pick the Best Nursing Assistant Program near Opelika Alabama

Opelika AL Certified 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 programs near Opelika AL. As soon as you have achieved your certification, you will be starting a gratifying career in one of the fastest expanding positions in healthcare within the Country. Although it might seem like a challenging undertaking, it's essential that you pick the right program to obtain the appropriate training and education. A number of prospective students begin with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might also be considering 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 training course requires much more than comparing the cost or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must similarly be taken into consideration. We will be covering those issues as well as several other questions that you should be asking before you register in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Job of a Nursing Assistant

Opelika AL Nursing Assistant greeting man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many functions in the Opelika AL hospitals, practices and other health facilities where they work. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Because they are not licensed, they perform under the guidance and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. Plus as nursing assistants, their primary job role is to assist the licensed nurses that they work under. Their duties are many and varied, and in a hospital setting might include:

  • Providing 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
  • Conveying patients to other rooms

CNAs may also work in Opelika AL nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more involved in helping patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are characterized as routine activities that the majority of people carry out daily without help, such as eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants typically develop more of a bond with these types of patients since they often reside in the facilities for extensive time frames. In many cases, they may end up being the pipeline between the patient and the balance of the medical staff thanks to their relationships with their charges. Because of this, the CNA's expertise can be a valuable resource for preparing the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Programs

In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at community colleges or at Opelika AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 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 have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction required and that every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's necessary 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 recommendation is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional prerequisites as well.

Online CNA Training

Opelika AL student attending online CNA trainingEnrolling in CNA training online is growing into a more popular way to obtain instruction and earn a certificate or diploma in Opelika AL. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Concerning tuition, a number of online CNA programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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 job and household commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online CNA program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your active schedule.

What to Ask CNA Schools

Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you receive an excellent education and employment in the Opelika AL area, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification requirements 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 imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps 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 evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Opelika 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 schools 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Opelika AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical environment. 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 associations with nearby Opelika AL hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Learn How to Choose a CNA School

Choose the Best Nurse Assistant Program

Picking the right certified nursing assistant training program is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you should consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is important that you pick a CNA school and a certificate program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a certified nursing assistant in Opelika AL.