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How to Enroll In the Best Certified Nursing Assistant College near Little Rock Arkansas

Little Rock AR Nursing Assistant taking patient'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 Little Rock AR. After you have achieved your certification, you will launch a rewarding career in one of the most rapidly growing occupations in medical care within the USA. Though it may seem like a complicated endeavor, it's essential that you choose the best school to acquire the necessary training and education. Many future students begin with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You may additionally be debating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them from home. More on that option later. But doing your due diligence prior to selecting a program requires far more than comparing the cost or location. Such things as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into consideration. We will be covering those issues as well as various other questions that you need to be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's discuss a little bit about what a nursing assistant does and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Function of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Little Rock AR Certified Nursing Assistant helping man on crutches

Certified Nursing Assistants carry out many functions in the Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities 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 function under the direction and oversight of either a licensed LPN or RN. Plus as nursing assistants, their primary job duty is to help the licensed nurses that they work under. Their responsibilities are many and diverse, and in a hospital setting can include:

  • Furnishing basic care to patients
  • Checking patient's vital signs
  • Maintaining a record of patient's health status
  • Cleaning and dressing patients
  • Serving and aiding patients with meals
  • Transferring patients to other areas

CNAs might also work in Little Rock AR nursing homes or long term care centers. In those environments, nursing assistants are more engaged in assisting patients with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADLs are identified as routine activities that the majority of people accomplish daily without aid, including eating, dressing, or using the bathroom. Nursing assistants typically build more of a bond with these patients since they typically stay in the facilities for extensive periods of time. In many cases, they can end up being the pipeline between the patient and the balance of the medical staff because of their relationships with their charges. Consequently, the CNA's knowledge can be an useful resource for preparing the proper care and treatment of long term care patients.

CNA Programs

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at community colleges or at Little Rock 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 obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training directed and every state has its specific requirements. So it's important to make sure that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the education is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional prerequisites as well.

CNA Online Training

Little Rock AR woman attending online CNA classesEnrolling in CNA classes online is emerging as a more popular way to get training and earn a certificate or diploma in Little Rock AR. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend school for many students. Pertaining to tuition, many online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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). And so if your work and family commitments have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online CNA training program will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask CNA Colleges

Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of CNA schools and colleges within Arkansas and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.

  • 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 organization. Aside from helping verify that you receive a premium education and employment in the Little Rock AR area, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification prerequisites for CNAs vary from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's essential that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum certification standards for Arkansas or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Arkansas school certification or licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Little Rock 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 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 substantiate that the school has a superb reputation within the Little Rock AR medical 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. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for certification also. Check if the schools have associations with nearby Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enroll in the Right Nurse Assistant School

Little Rock AR CNA with assisted living patientDeciding on the right certified nursing assistant school is perhaps the most important first step to starting a new career in the medical care field. There are a number of factors that you need to think about when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this article, it is important that you choose a CNA school and a certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose 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 Little Rock AR.