How to Choose the Best Certified Nursing Assistant Program near Fort Smith Arkansas
Once you have made a decision to practice in the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to begin the process of finding CNA classes near Fort Smith AR. Once you have obtained your certification, you will be starting a gratifying career in one of the most rapidly growing positions in healthcare within the USA. Although it might seem like an overwhelming endeavor, it's important that you select the ideal program to receive the appropriate training and education. Many prospective students start with the two most fundamental qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You might also be debating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them at home. More about that alternative later. But completing your due diligence prior to deciding on a school entails far more than comparing the cost or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must similarly be taken into consideration. We will be addressing those subjects along with several other questions that you should 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a CNA
Certified Nursing Assistants perform many functions in the Fort Smith AR hospitals, clinics and other health facilities 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 direction and management of either a licensed LPN or RN. And as nursing assistants, their primary job function is to assist the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are many and varied, and in a hospital environment may include:
- Providing basic services to patients
- Reading patient's vital signs
- Keeping a record of patient's health status
- Cleaning and dressing patients
- Serving and helping patients with meals
- Moving patients to other areas
CNAs may also practice in Fort Smith AR nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more involved in aiding patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are defined as routine activities that most people accomplish daily without aid, for example eating, dressing, or using the restroom. Nursing assistants usually build more of a bond with these patients since they usually remain in the facilities for prolonged periods of time. In many cases, they may become the pipeline between the patient and the rest of the medical staff because of their relationships with their charges. As a result, the CNA's expertise can be a valued resource for preparing the appropriate care and treatment of long term care patients.
CNA DiplomasUnlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at community colleges or at Fort Smith AR vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 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 instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction required and that each state has its own requirements. So it's essential to make certain that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but likewise 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 course is state certified. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other prerequisites as well.
Online CNA Schools
Enrolling in CNA training online is growing into a more favored way to receive training and acquire a certificate or diploma in Fort Smith AR. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Regarding tuition, some online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). And so if your job and household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online CNA program will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask CNA Schools
Once you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of CNA schools and colleges throughout Arkansas and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick 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. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a premium education and employment in the Fort Smith AR area, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum certification standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact the Arkansas school certification or licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Fort Smith AR 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 unhappy 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 good reputation within the Fort Smith AR healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for certification as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with local Fort Smith AR hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Nurse Assistant School
Choosing the right certified nursing assistant degree program is arguably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you should think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you select a CNA college and a certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a CNA in Fort Smith AR.