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Help Take Care of Others and Take the Challenge of Becoming a CNA

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Certified nursing assistant (CAN) employment opportunities are everywhere: nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice agencies hire CNAs to take care of some of the needs of their residents and patients. Families who try to keep their loved ones at home when they are elderly or disabled hire caregivers usually prefer caregivers to have a CNA license.

CNAs help people with their personal care when they are not able to do things for themselves. They encourage their patients to keep doing the tasks they are still capable of doing. Not all patients are close to dying and many have rehabilitation possibilities. CNAs help with rehabilitation of patients who have the potential of improving their situation. CNAs help with the transfer of patients in or out of beds or wheelchairs or onto or off of furniture. Patients who need help with meals or personal hygiene can count on the professional assistance of a CNA.

Some CNAs are hired for nursing jobs at hospitals. They work under a licensed nurse, and besides helping with activities of daily living they also help the nurse with other procedures. Nurses know and recognize the skills of the CNAs they work with and delegate some of their work to them. Nurses may also work with CNAs on things patients need but which are easier to do with two people. Sometimes a doctor orders that a patient has one-on-one care. That means that a CNA will stay in the room of a patient at all times. The CNA will not leave the patient alone at all. This can be needed when a patient is at suicide risk or when he or she may potentially harm him- or herself unintentionally.



CNAs are trained to do more than just personal care. In emergency situations they are able to do CPR. Besides checking vital signs they also check blood sugars and are often responsible for bringing samples of bodily fluids to the lab or for picking up blood that a patient needs urgently. The blood bank is usually located on a different floor of the hospital. Sometimes a CNA is certified to work as a telemetry technician. The CAN watches the heart rhythm of several patients on a monitor at the nursing station and takes appropriate action when a heart rhythm changes for the worse. The CNA recognizes when a patient has premature ventricular contractions or goes into atrial or ventricular fibrillation and will let the nurse know immediately. The CNA knows how to get the crash card into the patient’s room immediately and will call a code overhead whenever he or she thinks the circumstances require it.

Certified nursing assistants can start working in nursing homes when they are sixteen, but hospitals usually require a minimum age of eighteen and two years’ experience. To become certified, a CNA has to take a CNA course followed by a written and skills test. CPR certification and a food handler’s permit are also required.

Most certified nursing assistants start working a couple months before they are certified. Their starting wages are usually between $8 and $10 per hour, but upon certification they get an immediate raise of about $3 per hour. With experience and certification for telemetry their wages go up fast, and most CNAs make between $15 and $20 per hour. To enter nursing school or schooling for any other medical profession, a CNA license and some experience is usually required.

Most CNAs love their jobs, although things can get quite messy at times. To prevent getting sick a CNA needs to know what precautions to take for the patients he or she cares for.
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