How do I Become a Certified Nurse Aide?

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  • Written By: E. Reeder
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2019
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To become a certified nurse aide (CNA), a prospective student must complete all required courses and demonstrate basic competencies in nursing. These courses and competencies are all related to the basic care of patients. This occurs during a short training program usually lasting between a few weeks to several of months.

When working to become a certified nurse aide, also called a nursing assistant, a variety of courses are required. Some of these may include training in nutrition, recognizing the vital signs and functions of patients, and performing routine medical tasks. These tasks may include feeding and bathing patients as well as changing their bedding. Courses are also designed to help future nurse aides learn to deal effectively with patients and to recognize changes in their physical and emotional states.

Successful certified nurse aides must be able to work with a variety of patients. This requires they have a basic understanding of psychology and a genuine interest in providing care for others. Often, a certified nurse aide will report changes in the condition of a patient to registered nurses or physicians so that they can take the appropriate action.


After completing the required courses, a potential certified nurse aide must demonstrate competency in predetermined skill areas. The student must do this before obtaining his or her certificate. A student may, for example, be required to competently transport patients from room to room, change bandages, administer medication, and check heartbeat and pulse. On exam day, the student may be asked to demonstrate several skills to her or his instructor. The student must also prove competency by completing and reaching at least a minimum score on a written examination.

Community colleges, medical facilities and vocational programs are where students usually train to become a certified nurse aide. Requirements for this career may vary by country and province, state, or parish. Generally speaking, once a candidate has successfully completed the requirements to become a certified nurse aide, he or she must work under the supervision of a registered nurse. A certified nurse aide requires a certificate instead of a license, so the nursing assistant must work under a licensed professional.

Certified nurse aides usually earn lower pay than registered nurses. CNAs often use their training and experience to continue to work toward becoming a registered nurse, a licensed position that requires more training and coursework and allows more decision-making in the care of patients.



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