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How to Become a Nursing Assistant

Certified nurses aideCNA Programs Prepare Students for Work in the Field of Nursing

If you are thinking about a new career, you might be wondering where to get started.  What kind of education do you need? How long will it take to get qualified? This article focuses on how to become a nursing assistant.

1. Is this field right for you?

Before you start looking for training, make sure you do your research. Is nursing assistant the right career choice for you? Is the job outlook for nursing assistants strong in your area? One helpful resource for understanding a new career field is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. This handbook details the job descriptions, educational requirements, job outlook, and pay scale of hundreds of occupations. Look under “Nursing Assistants and Orderlies” to learn more about how to become a nursing assistant.

As you are doing your research, be aware that there are different titles for this job field such as: nursing assistant, nurses aide, certified nurses aide (CNA), certified nursing aide, and certified nursing assistant.

2. How to become a nursing assistant: the right training

Depending on the state where you live, there may be different requirements for becoming a nursing assistant. Some states may require certifications or special exams. You may want to call a local nursing home and ask them for a list of training sites and testing sites. In your area, there may be community colleges, private career schools, and other options for getting trained in this field. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides a state-by-state listing of Nurse Aide Registries. You can contact your state’s registry office to find out what you need to know for your state.

3. Find a school that is right for you

When you start looking for training, make sure you find the school that is right for you. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask:

  • Is the school close enough to home so that you will attend all classes?
  • When are the classes held? Will this fit your schedule?
  • How large are the classes? Will you get enough individual attention?
  • How much is tuition?
  • What does the curriculum cover, and how long is the program?
  • Does the program include hands-on clinical training?
  • What is the job placement rate of the school’s graduates?

4. Study hard and complete all assignments

Once you have chosen your school, you will need to commit yourself to the coursework and study well for the exams. Here are some basic study tips:

  • Take good notes while in class. This is the first step that will help you study more effectively when you are at home.
  • Plan out specific times to study. Look at your week in advance, and block out certain hours in your schedule that are just for you to do your homework and study. Make sure you reserve extra time when a test is coming up.
  • Keep a calendar. Either on your handheld device or on a paper calendar, be sure to record your class times, assignments due dates, and test dates. Stay organized!
  • Form a study group. Sometimes it helps to study with others. Find other classmates who might be interested in working together.
  • Do not procrastinate. Getting behind in your homework can ultimately make you feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Stay on top of your work!
  • Take review courses. If your state requires that you get certified before practicing as a nursing assistant, you will want to make special efforts to prepare for these important certification exams. Take review courses if they are offered. Take practice exams. Ask for extra tutoring if you need help. Work with your instructors and fellow students to make sure you are confident with your knowledge and skills before the day of the exam arrives.

5. Use Career Services to get started on your job search

As you are nearing graduation, you will want to contact the Career department at your school for help in getting your job search started. The Career Department may have resources to help you find job openings that you might not otherwise find on your own. In addition, Career Departments can help you write your resume and cover letter, prepare for interviews, and help you conduct your job search effectively.

The Harris School of Business, founded in 1965, has a long history of providing career-focused programs in the fields of allied health and business management. Core programs include massage therapy coursesdental assistant training, health claims specialist (medical billing training), and medical assistant programs. Harris offers a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA) program at its Danbury, Connecticut campus.

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