Choosing a career is a big decision and only a first step in a process. Individuals who want to work in the healthcare industry may decide to first become a Certified Nurse Aide or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) because it requires a short but critical training period. CNA training classes in many states are only four to six weeks long. Once someone decides to become a Certified Nurse Aide, the next step is usually finding a nearby training program. In the following sections, some suggestions are offered to simplify the process of CNA program selection.
First, Understand the Training Options
Before searching for conveniently located CNA training programs, it is necessary to first understand the facility options. In every state, state-approved CNA classes are offered in one or more types of facilities: education facilities, hospitals and long-term nursing facilities.
These types of training facilities include community colleges, universities, vocational schools, workforce training technical schools, high schools and others. Educational facilities go by different names in different states.
In most states, nurse aides do not have to be certified to work in a hospital. The exception is when the hospital operates a special unit that provides long-term nursing care, similar to a free-standing nursing and rehabilitation facility. Nurse aides must be certified in order to work in the unit, so there are hospitals that offer CNA training.
Long-Term Nursing Facilities
Federal and state laws allow people to complete training in nursing homes while also employed.
Online CNA Programs and Clinical Training
People ask, “Why should I try to find CNA classes near me?” The answer is that students must attend classes and complete clinical training. Even if a school offers CNA programs online, the student must do clinical training in person and in a long-term nursing facility. However, attending classes online is a good option for individuals who need the time flexibility. The various programs have agreements with particular nursing home facilities that provide hands-on clinical training.
Students can ask for permission to do clinical training at a facility not on the state’s current list, but it is discouraged. The approved training facilities have already been vetted as to their appropriateness and as to whether they meet federal and state standards.
Possible Free CNA Training
Another common question is, “How do I find CNA classes near me for free?” The best route to get free training is to train at a long-term care facility. A federal law, referred to as OBRA ’87, requires the long-term care facility to pay all training costs and the exam fees. Free training at schools is possible, if the individual qualifies for state workforce training funds or gets a scholarship or grant to cover costs.
Searching and Finding Local State-Approved CNA Programs
How to Begin Searching Programs?
Every state has multiple CNA programs offered at public and private schools and in long-term care facilities. Where a student lives determines which Certified Nursing Assistant programs are most conveniently accessed. With a city and state in mind, an individual can find state-approved CNA programs in a variety of ways.
- Access www.choosecna.org, one of the best websites for CNA education and career information
- Contact the local Red Cross which offers CNA training in many states
- Contact the home state’s Certified Nurse Aide Registry and request a listing of state-approved CNA programs
- Contact the home state’s Department of Health and Human Services to obtain a current list of state-approved CNA programs
What to Keep in Mind During Program Search?
CNA training programs offered at educational facilities are easily found online at www.ChooseCNA.org/, but not all states post a listing of approved long-term care facilities. Additional points to keep in mind are as follows:
- Each state develops and maintains its particular process for earning CNA certification
- State agencies responsible for approving training programs and individual certifications and for maintaining the state Nurse Aide Registry are not identical from state to state
- Some states contract with a private company to administer the competency exam and maintain the state Registry, i.e. Prometric, PSI Services or Headmaster
A good approach is to identify the CNA programs of interest and either attend an information session, if offered, or request an appointment with a program counselor or staff member. If an individual is interested in getting on the Nurse Aide Registry via reciprocity, or the many other paths offered to those who have had prior training or certification, then he or she should review the wealth of information provided by state on choosecna.org concerning paths to CNA certification, and then contact the appropriate agency or testing service.
What to Keep in Mind After Finding a CNA Program?
Once an individual can say, “I found the CNA certification classes near me,” there are some points to keep in mind:
- Nurse Aide programs offer day, evening, weekend and/or other schedules to make it easy for anyone who wants to become a Certified Nurse Aide to attend CNA classes
- Local CNA schools establish their tuition and fees, so they vary from program to program and can be revised at any time
- When discussing program costs with school staff, be sure to ask about total expenses beyond tuition and fees that the student must pay which could include medical supplies, uniforms, lab fees, student health insurance, fees for health exams and immunizations, etc.
- Schools and training programs also establish prerequisites that must be met to qualify for program enrollment
CNAs Provide Vital Healthcare Services
As the U.S. population ages, the number of long-term care facilities is rapidly growing. In addition, many states require nurse aides to have CNA certification to work in rehabilitation centers, adult care facilities and mental health facilities. Even when certification is not required, employers often include certification as a requirement for CNA job application. Certification means the Nurse Aide has been thoroughly trained and tested for competency and is ready to provide vital services in the healthcare industry.