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Certification Nursing Assistance

As a certified nursing assistant, you'll perform a wide variety of tasks, from measuring a patient's vital signs to helping them bathe, eat, or get dressed. You'll likely be the primary daily caregiver within a nursing or residential home, and you'll often be your patient's main contact throughout the day.
Depending on state and institutional regulations, you may be asked to take on additional responsibilities, like administering medicine. Working as a certified nursing assistant can be a deeply emotional and rewarding job since you're in constant interaction with your patients and you're directly impacting their quality of life.


How to become a certified nursing assistant

In order to become a CNA, you'll need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. You'll also need to complete a state-approved education program in order to become certified.
CNA training programs can take as little as three weeks to complete and are often available at high schools, community colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals. Within your CNA training, you can expect to learn how to perform some of the following tasks:

  • Ensuring patient safety

  • Checking vital signs

  • Moving patients safely

  • Caring for personal hygiene 

  • Administering CPR

Some people choose to work as a CNA while attending nursing school. Others take a job in this field to help them decide if nursing is the right calling for them before investing time and money in becoming an LPN or RN.

Skills needed

Working as a CNA can be a demanding job. As a health care worker, you need to be constantly attuned to the needs of your patients, especially in a setting where medical emergencies may arise. It's also important to have a good bedside manner since your behavior can affect your patients, many of whom may be elderly or vulnerable. Effective CNAs often possess the following skills:
Empathy: You’ll often be caring for patients facing difficult health situations or other hardships.
Dependability: You play a role in following a patient’s plan of care to help ensure their well-being.
Time management and organization: You may be working with multiple patients and with limited supervision.
Critical thinking: Emergencies do happen in the health care field, so it’s important to be able to think on your feet.
Observational skills: You likely spend more time with a patient than their doctor or nurse, so it’s typically your job to report even slight changes to their mental or physical health.