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VIDEO GUIDE TO BECOMING A NURSING ASSISTANT
Q & A WITH KAT SCHAPER, CNA, LPN
Introduction to Nursing Assistants
Certified nursing assistants, also called CNAs, work under the supervision of nurses to help patients with daily living tasks. They work in collaboration with, and under the supervision of, registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and other medical staff. CNAs work closely with patients and are responsible for basic care services such as bathing, grooming and feeding patients, assisting nurses with medical equipment, and checking patient vital signs. Nursing assistants are often responsible for observing and reporting how patients respond to the care that is being given.
To become a successful nursing assistant, a person needs to be a team player who is capable of taking orders well. Compassion and skill in patient care helps reduce the stress of those who are sick or unable to care for themselves. Nursing assistants work in a variety of different healthcare settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, home health agencies, nursing homes, private homes, and mental health institutions. Students interested in becoming a nursing assistant should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.
Top Online Medical Assisting Programs
It is important to note that an online nursing assistant degree does not exist, but the following schools offer online degrees in medical assisting or similarly related fields which may be suitable for individuals pursuing careers as nursing assistants. By clicking on links below, you can request information from each school about its tuition, classes, and programs.
|Kaplan University — Kaplan University is an accredited university, offering 170 degrees and programs. Kaplan University's Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting and Nursing prepare students to pursue entry-level positions in the ambulatory medical field and for entry-level positions in health information management. Financial aid is available for those who apply and qualify.|
|Keiser University — Keiser University is an accredited university offering over 80 programs. Keiser University's Associate of Science degree in Medical Assisting prepares you for a fulfilling career in health care, shaping you to be an essential part of a physician's office, clinic or other medical environments. The Associate of Science degree in Nursing prepares students to provide basic care to patients and to assist RNs and even Nurse Practitioners.|
|Herzing University — Herzing University is an accredited university offering opportunities to earn Master's, Bachelor's, Associate Degrees in over 45 different programs. Graduates of the Herzing University Associate's degree in Medical Assisting and Office Administration programs gain knowledge of medical billing and reimbursement. The associate degree programs are designed to help prepare students for entry-level office positions in the healthcare industry.|
|Sanford Brown College — Sanford Brown College offers more than 20 unique associate and bachelor's degree programs. The Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program prepares students for entry-level nursing in a private practice, hospital, clinic or government agency. Financial aid is available for those who apply and qualify.|
|National American University — National American University is an accredited institution and offers more than 20 accelerated certificate and Associate of Science degree programs in the business, medical and technical fields. The AS in Nursing program at NAU offers comprehensive back office training to provide support to physicians and direct patient care in a variety of medical settings.|
FAQs About Nursing Assistants
What exactly is a nurse assistant?
A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, has a wide variety of responsibilities within a diverse number of health care settings. These settings include nursing homes, private homes, mental health institutions, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and more. Responsibilities generally revolve around helping registered nurses (RN), doctors, and other healthcare professionals with the multitude of tasks that need to be completed on a day to day basis in medical facilities. These tasks can include, helping to move patients to new locations, taking notes for doctors, checking on patients, and more.
Additional tasks performed by a CNA, according to O*NET OnLine include:
- Answer patient call signals, signal lights, bells, or intercom systems to determine patients’ needs.
- Document or otherwise report observations of patient behavior, complaints, or physical symptoms to nurses.
- Communicate with patients to ascertain feelings or need for assistance or social and emotional support.
What are the different types of degrees in this field?
To obtain a nursing assistant job, a CNA most often needs to have at least a high school diploma, or GED, and at least some form of post-secondary nursing instruction. This can be obtained from a variety of institutions, including online schools, community colleges, trade schools, and so on. From there, it is a simple matter of taking, and passing, a CNA Exam. The following healthcare associate degrees can help prepare a student for a job as a nursing assistant:
- Associate’s Degree in Health & Human Services
- Associate’s Degree in Health Information Technology
- Associate’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
- Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting
- Associate’s Degree in Medical Billing & Coding
- Associate’s Degree in Medical Office Administration
- Associate’s Degree in Medical Records
- Associate’s Degree in Medical Transcription
What is the average salary of a certified nursing assistant?
Certified nursing assistants who have obtained their nursing assistant certificate can earn competitive salaries depending on their level of education and experience. CNAs are typically paid by the hour, and obtain raises based on the amount of years in the field, education, and certification. CNAs generally start out in the $9.00 to $10.50 an hour range. Those who have much more experience and training can make as much as $15.00 per hour. More info.
The setting where a CNA works will influence salary potential. The chart below from The Bureau of Labor Statistics depicts the median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of nursing aides:
It’s important to note recent employment statistics for nursing assistants. According to the BLS, employment is projected to grow faster than the average with excellent job opportunities expected. With the right education, a rewarding career as a nursing assistant awaits.
What schools offer degrees for nursing assistants?
There are many academic institutions that offer certificates and degrees for persons interested in a certified nursing assistant career. Some schools offer specific medical assisting degrees, while others offer degrees in healthcare management and administration which can still be used to obtain certification as a nursing assistant:
- Kaplan University: Kaplan offers an impressive selection of degree options for students who wish to work as a nursing assistant. These accredited programs create marketable graduates who are ready to perform in various healthcare settings.
- Keiser University: Keiser offers an AS degree in medical assisting for students interested in helping physicians and nurses support their patients. The AS in health services program is an option for those interested in a more administrative role.
- Bryant & Stratton College: Graduates of Bryant & Stratton’s medical assistant program are prepared to handle administrative and clinical procedures consisting of scheduling patient appointments, billing, and transcription.
- Herzing University: Students interested in entry-level employment in the healthcare industry can obtain the required skill and education at Herzing University. The school offers associate degrees in medical assisting, office management, and many others.
- San Joaquin Valley College: While not as well known as some of the other schools on this list, SJVC offers a well rounded program for students to obtain an AS in clinical medical assisting.
- National American University: NAU offers an excellent degree program for students interested in medical assisting. The AA degree in medical assisting is a well-rounded program designed to prepare students to face new and exciting challenges in the medical field.
- Penn Foster College: Penn Foster offers students the opportunity to obtain an AAS degree in medical assisting. This degree program will give aspiring CNAs the knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs of the healthcare providers they assist.
- Strayer University: Strayer offers bachelor’s and master’s degree that help prepare students for careers in the health care industry. For CNAs interested in continuing their studies, Strayer provides flexible learning options for its students.
- DeVry University: DeVry offers higher-education services for students interested in an associate or bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Programs are offered on a trimester basis, allowing students to graduate in less time.
What types of financial aid are available for schools offering nursing assistant degrees?
Financial aid is almost always available for those who demonstrate need. The first thing any prospective student seeking aid should do is fill out a FAFSA to see what sort of federal grants and loans may be available. A FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can complete a FASFA entirely online. Once submitted and reviewed, you are in contention for various types of awards and funding options. Filling out a FASFA can be tricky. Many steps are involved and require extensive documentation. You can find all the information you need by visiting their site. To fill out a FASFA, you’ll need the following information:
- Driver’s license (or a state-issued ID)
- Social security number
- Previous year’s records of money earned (W-2 Form, etc.)
- Current bank statements
- Income Tax Returns from the previous year (and spouse’s, if married)
- Parents’ federal income tax return (if you are a dependent student)
- Untaxed income records (Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, welfare, veterans benefit records)
- Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if not born in the US)
There are many nursing scholarships available to students who meet the requirements. Some of these scholarships include SGNA RN General Education Scholarship, Miriam Fay Furlong Grant, Scholarships of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Midwest Alliance for Nursing Informatics Scholarship, and many more. The requirements for these scholarships vary, but most require you to be pursuing a degree in nursing. Others simply require that you demonstrate the proper lineage or that you write a compelling essay. The best idea is to start the search early, applying for as many scholarships as possible.