What is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)?
Exactly, what is a CNA (certified
nursing assistant) or nursing assistant? The functional position has existed under many different
titles for generations, everything from orderlies to nurse’s aides to home health care aides. The title may change but one
thing remains the same, The Certified Nursing Assistant is the person who does some of the most
difficult and often thankless work in the medical hierarchy and without whom the health care system would come
to a grinding halt.
So what exactly does a Certified Nursing Assistant
do? They provide direct patient care. This means helping patients with routine tasks such as dressing, eating, walking and
using the bathroom. It means moving bedridden patients on a regular
basis to prevent bedsores, helping them get in and out of bed, answering their calls at any hour, checking
their vital signs and keeping up with the regular glut of paperwork involved.
CNAs, whether working in hospitals,
nursing homes, adult day care facilities or directly in patient’s homes, are the people who have the closest direct contact with a patient
on a regular basis. As a result, it is often a CNA
who will initially notice if something is wrong with a patient and can be their first line of defense or
With the Baby Boomer generation aging, the number of
older patients in need of medical care is growing on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, this
means it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the necessary number of CNA’s to
provide the proper level of care for each patient. It is a worldwide
crisis and the reason that more medical facilities are urging people to consider becoming a Certified Nursing
The good news is that becoming a CNA is
not terribly difficult. All it requires is the completion of a CNA course. Specific requirements
may vary from state to state, but in general you can find CNA courses through medical facilities, Community
Colleges or your local Red Cross chapter.
But the most important requirement for becoming a
Certified Nursing Assistant is not classroom training, it’s the attitude you bring to the
job. Being a CNA is not easy. It can be one of the
most stressful jobs imaginable, exposing you to verbal and even physical abuse from frustrated patients on a
daily basis. But if it’s done right, it can also be the single most rewarding job you’ll ever
Dealing with aging patients can be trying, especially
those who suffer from dementia and other mental illness, but for the right person, it can also be a
calling. Often, you are the only friendly face they’ll see, the only person to hold their hand
and offer a smile. They may not be able to express what this means to them but you can rest easy knowing
that, as a CNA, you’ve been there to offer support in their time of need.
Being a CNA is not for everyone. It takes someone with a great deal of patience, compassion and
understanding. It is not simply about earning a paycheck, it is
about helping your fellow man. If you can see past the hard work
and stress, you may be lucky enough to see the gratitude in a patient’s eyes. That’s the real reward of the CNA, the greatest reward of
So what exactly is the market for CNAs?