Home Jobs & Education How Long Does It Take To Become a CNA?

Certified nurse aides (CNAs), commonly called nurse aides, are unlicensed but registered assistive personnel, who are trained to carry out limited nursing care for patients in the healthcare system. Nurse aides are less advanced than both practical nurses and registered nurses. Because of this, they have to be supervised by other nurses or doctors. If you want to become a CNA yourself, there are some things you should know about the job. For instance, how long does it take to become a CNA? We’re going to answer this question and some other job-related questions in today’s article.

nurse holding the hand of a patient

How Long Does It Take to Become a CNA?

As we’ve already mentioned, a nurse aide isn’t as advanced as a registered nurse. This means that the former won’t spend as much time preparing for the job as the latter either. Generally, it takes about a year or two to go thorugh the training and earn the state certification necessary to use the CNA title. The amount of time it takes to complete the training depends on the courses you’ve chosen, and on whether or not the schedule is full-time or part-time.

The shortest programs, which are ideal for those who already have some experience taking care of people, last between 4 and 6 weeks. This is great news for people who don’t have that much time to spend training, and who want to get a job as soon as possible. Other programs last between 6 and 12 months. Usually, the longer the program, the greater the exposure to such “soft” skills as patient relations and professional communication. Since employers value these skills enormously, we advise you to attend the longest schedule possible.

How to Become a CNA

CNA Training and Requirements

CNA training is a popular program at many community colleges. Moreover, you can also find it as a standalone vocational course. No matter the length of the course, quality programs prepare students for state testing, national certification, and gainful employment. Ideally, they should provide both a theoretical background and hands-on clinical training in line with state requirements.

Oftentimes, students have to undergo background checks to get into CNA programs, since most of them involve direct patient contact. Many – but not all – programs require a high school diploma as well. Most have an age minimum of 16 or 18 years old. Additionally, some students will need current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification before they can begin their clinical training. However, they can also get CPR instruction as part of the course.

CNAs-in-training learn how to assist with the activities of daily living (ADLs), provide care for bedridden patients, do safe transfers, take vitals, assist with walking and range of motion, monitor patient status, and fit protective devices and restraints. Some programs integrate general education into the curriculum as well, such as English composition coursework. In fact, the more clinical exposure, the better. Trained nurses and other active practitioners are those who teach the best programs, so we advise you to look for one like this.

The state’s Board of Nursing of the Department of Health must approve all programs for the certification to be viable. Most states ask for a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction and clinical practice. Additionally, CNAs also receive specialized training opportunities. You get these specifically for  learning how to work with special patients like the elderly, or with technological modes such as X-rays.

Certification and Registration

Even if completing a training program may qualify one for a career as a nurse aide, you need state approval in order to become a certified nurse aide. Which is why, after finishing school, program graduates have to register with the state. They can also apply for national certification with the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP), but this is optional.

The aforementioned registration secures a CNA’s place in the state’s Nurse Aide Registry. However, keep in mind that before certifying an applicant as a CNA, most states want candidates to pass certain written and skills tests. The good news is that not all of them require formal nurse aide training. Some offer tests called “bridge exams“. These are useful for transferring a CNA credential issued by another state.

Final Thoughts

So, how long does it take to become a CNA? It depends. You can spend between 4 weeks and 2 months in training, after which you’re going to gain a specific set of skills. We hope today’s article managed to inspire you to look more into being a nurse aide and even become one yourself.

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