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How to Choose the Right Certified Nursing Assistant Program near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK CNA taking patient's blood pressureNow that you have decided to enter the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of finding CNA training classes near Anchorage AK. Once you have achieved your certification, you will begin a gratifying career in one of the most rapidly expanding positions in healthcare within the USA. Although it might seem like an overwhelming undertaking, it's essential that you pick the ideal course to acquire the proper training and education. A number of future students begin with the two most essential qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You might additionally be pondering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA course and attend them at home. More about that option later. But doing your due diligence before selecting a training course requires much more than comparing the tuition or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into account. We will be addressing those issues along with various other questions that you should 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 training and credentials that are available.

The Role of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Anchorage AK Certified Nursing Assistant helping man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants are responsible for many functions in the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical organizations where they work. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Given that they are not licensed, they work under the guidance and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their prime job role is to help the licensed nurses that they work under. Their duties are many and diverse, and in a hospital setting might include:

  • Providing basic services to patients
  • Checking 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 may also practice in Anchorage AK nursing homes or long term care centers. In those settings, nursing assistants are more involved in aiding patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are characterized as routine activities that most individuals accomplish daily without aid, including eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants typically develop more of a bond with these patients since they commonly remain in the facilities for extended periods of time. Often, they may become the conduit between the patient and the rest of the medical staff due to their familiarity with their charges. Consequently, the CNA's expertise can be a valuable resource for planning the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at community colleges or at Anchorage AK 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 obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training directed and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's crucial to make sure that the course you enroll in not only meets 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 course 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 Classes

Anchorage AK woman attending online CNA classesAttending CNA training online is emerging as a more popular way to obtain training and acquire a certificate or diploma in Anchorage AK. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Regarding tuition, many online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental 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). So if your work and household responsibilities 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.

Questions to Ask CNA Training Classes

Now that you have determined which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate 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 agency. Aside from helping make sure that you get a premium education and employment in the Anchorage AK area, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided 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.  Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum certification requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the Alaska school certification or licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Anchorage AK 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 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Anchorage AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification too. Find out if the schools have associations with local Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Learn How to Choose a CNA School

Pick the Right CNA School

Deciding on the ideal certified nursing assistant degree program is probably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this content, it is important that you select a CNA college 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 choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Anchorage AK.