Always in demand since the general population is, or at some point, aging or in need of nursing care. Nursing assistant jobs can be found in hospitals, Hospice and Palliative Care, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and in private in-home care agencies.
Entry Level Education
To enter the CNA program, you must have a high school diploma or GED. You will need to complete all tests to obtain your GED, or obtain all necessary credits to receive your high school diploma. You will be required to possess either one, or the other, of these documents in order to gain entry into the CNA program. Contact your local community college for information on enrollment of the GED program, or AHS program (Adult High School program).
Once you’re accepted into the program, you will have to attend class as directed, and complete all coursework therein. There will be quizzes, tests, and
demonstrations you will have to successfully pass. You will also have to pass CPR, and possibly, AED training. After completion of all of the coursework
requirements, you will advance to contact hours.
During contact hours, you will be working with real patients, or residents, under the supervision of an R.N and your instructor. You will have to successfully perform ADLs (activities of daily living) on actual people. This involves changing briefs (never call them diapers, it offends the person wearing the brief), showering and shaving, dressing and feeding, proper lifting techniques, use of a gait belt, recording input and output, charting, and much, much more.
You will also have to demonstrate how to properly take vital signs (pulse, temperature, respiration), perform catheter care, weighing with and without a wheelchair, and effectively communicating with staff and residents. This is a highly, highly demanding career with many mental, emotional, and strenuous physical stresses.
After passing the coursework, CPR and/or AED training, and contact hours, you will be given a state test to assess your abilities to perform the duties of a nursing assistant correctly. Each individual state has it’s own qualifications needed for nursing assistant jobs, and you may be required to do more, or less, coursework or training than in another state.
Getting a Nursing Assistant Job
If you’ve survived the rigorous education and training to become a nursing assistant, you’re ready to put your skills and dedication to work. Check your local newspaper for open CNA positions, or go directly to nursing facilities, home-care agencies, hospices, or hospitals, and apply for work. The applications can be very detailed and lengthy, so be sure to allow ample time to complete them.
The application will need to be returned, but it may take a few days for the employer to get back in contact with you. If after a week has passed with no call back, call them. Inquire about your application and inform them that you are still interested in the position of a CNA. You may be surprised to find that your determination just may get your foot in the door.
If you have been asked to come in for an interview, be prepared. Bring your Social Security Card, CNA certification, photo ID, and any other information the employer has asked for. Dress accordingly in casual, yet formal, attire (no flip-flops, shorts and tank tops). Make eye contact when talking with the Administrator that is interviewing you, and be calm and answer questions truthfully.
You will be required to submit to drug testing. There’s no option to avoid it. Be honest with yourself, and the Administrator, if you have used, or are using illegal drugs. Honestly, it’s in your best interest to avoid applying for a CNA job until you are clean and sober. You will NOT be hired if even a trace of illegal substances are found in your drug test.
Ask about insurance, company policies, holiday schedules (you will more than likely have to work on some holidays and at least every other weekend), and pay rate. Some places will have a base-line pay, while others pay DOE (depending on experience). If given the go ahead to start, be a little early on your first day and report to the RN you will be assisting.
Your New Job
At first, it will be strenuous. There will be mistakes, forgetfulness, fatigue, and worry, and that’s just on behalf of the residents! Since you are new, residents may try to fool you into doing things for them, giving them things they cannot have, or they may even physically or verbally attack you. It’s normal in this line of work, so to expect it would be your best bet.
If a resident attacks you physically or verbally, report it to your supervisor as soon as safely possible. NEVER leave a resident you are aiding unattended. Push the call light or pull the red ‘help’ lever for immediate assistance if necessary. Under no circumstances are you to EVER retaliate physically, or verbally, on a resident.
Doing so WILL cost you your job and your certification.
It’s a career for the strong and dedicated. It takes lots of work, lots of tests, and lots of determination. If you have doubts, this line of work is not for you. As a CNA, human lives will be in your hands. You will experience joy, sorrow, guilt, aggravation, and you will encounter death. Being prepared to meet all of the qualifications needed for nursing assistant jobs can help you to be the best CNA you can be.