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CNA Certification Training Classes Fort Smith AR


How to Pick the Right Certified Nursing Assistant School near Fort Smith Arkansas

Fort Smith AR Certified Nursing Assistant taking man's vital signsOnce 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 Fort Smith AR. Once you have attained your certification, you will be starting a fulfilling career in one of the most rapidly increasing occupations in health care within the United States. Even though it may seem like a daunting undertaking, it's important that you select the ideal school to acquire the necessary training and education. A number of prospective students start with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the cost of tuition. You might also be pondering 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 training course entails much more than comparing the cost or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into consideration. We will be covering those issues as well as a few other questions that you should be asking before you register 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

Fort Smith AR CNA greeting patient

Certified Nursing Assistants complete many tasks in the Fort Smith AR hospitals, practices and other health care facilities where they work. Per their title, CNAs are not licensed by the state but rather are certified. Given that they are not licensed, they perform under the guidance and supervision of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their prime job duty is to aid the licensed nurses that they work under. Their duties are numerous and diverse, and in a hospital setting can include:

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

CNAs may also practice in Fort Smith AR nursing homes or long term care centers. In those settings, nursing assistants are more involved in helping patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are characterized as routine activities that most individuals accomplish daily without help, including eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants typically build more of a bond with these patients since they often stay in the facilities for extended time frames. Frequently, they may end up being the channel between the patient and the balance of the medical staff because of their relationships with their charges. Consequently, the CNA's knowledge can be a valued resource for planning the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Courses

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at community colleges or at Fort Smith AR vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and each state has its own prerequisites. So it's essential to make sure that the course you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state certified. 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 requirements as well.

CNA Online Schools

Fort Smith AR woman taking CNA online classesAttending CNA training online is emerging as a more in demand way to get instruction and attain a certificate or diploma in Fort Smith AR. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend school for many students. Regarding tuition, a number of online CNA programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA training program will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A CNA is a critical component of any Fort Smith AR healthcare team. As a matter of fact, health care couldn’t happen without CNAs. The CNA is charged with the immediate care of residents or patients of the healthcare facility or agency that she or he works for. CNAs also assist with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and dressing. And they also have a role in keeping their patients comfortable and safe. As a member of a team, the CNA works directly under a nurse, typically a Registerd Nurse. Nurses depend on CNAs for patient tests, taking vital signs, and their feedback about each patient’s condition. CNAs also coordinate schedules with other healthcare professionals such as physical, occupational, or speech therapists. The job can be physically strenuous, including positioning, lifting, and moving patients during their work shift. CNAs spend most of their time on their feet because they always have a task at hand. But all in all, it’s the right job for people who like to keep busy and help patients while treating them with dignity and respect.

Things to Ask CNA Training Programs

What to Ask Fort Smith AR CNA schoolsOnce you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many CNA schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other programs.

  • 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 ensure that you get a premium education and employment in the Fort Smith AR area, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification criteria 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 important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum certification requirements for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Arkansas school certification or licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Fort Smith AR healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Fort Smith AR medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist 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. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification as well. Check if the schools have associations with nearby Fort Smith AR hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

Choose the Right Nurse Assistant Program

Fort Smith AR Nursing Assistant with nursing home residentDeciding on the right certified nursing assistant school is potentially the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are a number of variables that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is essential that you pick a CNA school and a certificate program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Fort Smith AR.