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How to Enroll In the Right Certified Nursing Assistant College near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa AL Certified Nursing Assistant taking patient's blood pressureNow that 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 Tuscaloosa AL. Once you have attained your certification, you will be starting a rewarding career in one of the most rapidly expanding occupations in healthcare within the USA. Though it may seem like a daunting undertaking, it's imperative that you choose the right school to acquire the appropriate training and education. A number of prospective students start with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might also be debating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them from home. More about that alternative later. But doing your due diligence prior to choosing a school involves much more than comparing the tuition or location. Such qualifiers as accreditation and the reputation of the school must additionally be considered. We will be addressing those issues as well as various other questions that you need to be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to start with, let's talk a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Nursing Assistant

Tuscaloosa AL CNA helping patient

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many duties in the Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities 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 function under the direction and supervision of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their primary job duty is to assist the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are numerous and varied, and in a hospital setting can include:

  • Administering 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 might also work in Tuscaloosa AL nursing homes or long term care facilities. In those settings, nursing assistants are more involved in helping patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are identified as routine activities that most individuals carry out daily without assistance, such as eating, dressing, or using the bathroom. Nursing assistants typically build more of a bond with these types of patients since they often remain in the facilities for extensive time periods. Frequently, 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 knowledge can be a beneficial resource for planning the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Certificates

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at community colleges or at Tuscaloosa AL vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive 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 minimal amount of instruction mandated and each state has its own requirements. So it's important to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training is state approved. As well as 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 Schools

Tuscaloosa AL student attending online CNA trainingAttending CNA training online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and acquire a certificate or diploma in Tuscaloosa AL. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Concerning tuition, a number of online CNA programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Therefore if your job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA training program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask CNA Programs

Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Alabama and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school along with the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.

  • 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. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a premium education and employment in the Tuscaloosa AL area, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification criteria for CNAs vary from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with 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 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 contact some Tuscaloosa 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 colleges 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 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 Tuscaloosa AL medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for certification too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with nearby Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Choose the Best Nurse Assistant Program

Tuscaloosa AL Nursing Assistant with nursing home patientPicking the best certified nursing assistant college is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is critical that you choose a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist 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 drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Tuscaloosa AL.