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How to Select the Right Nursing Assistant Course near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK CNA taking patient's blood pressureOnce you have decided to enter the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of searching for CNA classes near Anchorage AK. As soon as you have attained your certification, you will be starting a fulfilling career in one of the most rapidly expanding positions in health care within the Country. Even though it might seem like a daunting undertaking, it's important that you choose the right program to obtain the appropriate training and education. Many prospective students start with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might additionally be considering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them at home. More about that option later. But doing your due diligence prior to deciding on a training course consists of far more than comparing the price 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 need to 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Nursing Assistant

Anchorage AK Certified Nursing Assistant helping man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many tasks in the Anchorage AK hospitals, practices and other healthcare organizations where they are employed. As indicated by their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but instead are certified. Because they are not licensed, they work under the guidance and oversight 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 responsibilities are many and diverse, and in a hospital environment might include:

  • Furnishing basic services to patients
  • Reading patient's vital signs
  • Keeping a record of patient's health status
  • Bathing and dressing patients
  • Serving and helping patients with meals
  • Transferring patients to other areas

CNAs can also work in Anchorage AK nursing homes or long term care centers. In those settings, nursing assistants are more engaged in assisting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are characterized as routine activities that most individuals perform daily without aid, including eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants typically develop more of a bond with these patients since they typically stay in the facilities for extensive periods of time. Often, they can become the pipeline between the patient and the rest of the medical staff due to their familiarity with their charges. As a result, the CNA's knowledge can be a valued resource for preparing the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at community colleges or at Anchorage AK vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive 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 training required and 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 suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other prerequisites as well.

Online CNA Programs

Anchorage AK student taking CNA online coursesEnrolling in CNA programs online is growing into a more popular way to obtain training and attain a certificate or diploma in Anchorage AK. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Concerning tuition, some online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your job and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a CNA?

A Certified Nursing Assistant is an important part of any Anchorage AK medical team. As a matter of fact, health care wouldn’t be possible without CNAs. The CNA is responsible for the front line care of residents or patients of the medical facility or agency that she or he works for. CNAs also help with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and eating. And they also have a role in keeping their patients comfortable and safe. As a team member, the CNA reports to a nurse, typically an RN. Nurses rely on CNAs for patient tests, taking vital signs, and their reports about each patient’s condition. CNAs also manage scheduling with other healthcare professionals such as speech, occupational or physical therapists. The job can be physically strenuous, including positioning, lifting, and transferring patients during their work 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 people as well as treat them with dignity and respect.

What to Ask CNA Courses

What to Ask Anchorage AK CNA schoolsNow that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous CNA schools and colleges within Alaska 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 discussed, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education and employment in the Anchorage AK area, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification criteria for CNAs are different from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum certification standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, get in touch with the Alaska school certification or licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Anchorage AK 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 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 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Anchorage AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for certification also. Ask if the schools have associations with nearby Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right CNA School

Anchorage AK Nursing Assistant with nursing home residentEnrolling in the ideal certified nursing assistant training program is perhaps the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you select a CNA school and a certificate program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick 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 Anchorage AK.