Red Cross CNA & NAT Training Classes
After careful consideration, the American Red Cross has decided to discontinue its Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) program. No Red Cross NAT course will be scheduled after December 31, 2023. However, we still have helpful information to share, as well as other Red Cross training opportunities to offer, that will enhance your career in this growing healthcare field!
Read on to learn valuable information about different CNA certification programs and requirements, as well as helpful career information like common CNA tasks, salary, job outlook, and more.
What is a CNA?
A CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, works in a healthcare setting to provide basic care to patients. Sometimes referred to as a nursing assistant or nurse's aide, a CNA works under the direction of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) and is trained to help patients with daily tasks like bathing and dressing, as well as checking patient vital signs, and beyond.
How Do You Become a CNA?
To become a CNA, you will normally need to complete a state-approved training course and pass the state certification exam that includes both a written section, and a hands-on competency skills section. You can check training eligibility requirements, such as minimum age or education, with the agency regulating this training in your state. Note that individual training programs may have additional requirements. Once you’ve completed training and pass the CNA certification exam, you can then be placed on your state’s nurse aide registry.
Where Does a CNA Work?
CNAs can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, and home care.
What Does a CNA Do?
While it depends on the healthcare setting you choose, CNAs provide comfort and care to patients who have an illness, injury, or disability—or who just need extra help caring for themselves. Some common responsibilities, depending on the setting, may include:
- Dressing, bathing, grooming, feeding, and toileting
- Taking vital signs
- Infection control
- Turning/repositioning in bed
- Responding to patient calls
- Assisting with range-of-motion exercises
- Preparing rooms for new patients, and more
What's the Difference Between a CNA, Medical Assistant (MA), and LPN?
While CNAs, MAs, and LPNs all provide care and work in a healthcare setting, there are key differences in the tasks they can perform, as well as the training and level of expertise required:
- CNAs. As mentioned above, CNAs work under LPNs and/or RNs to assist the nurses in providing care to a patient. The required training for CNAs can be completed in weeks.
- LPNs/LVNs. Offering a higher level of care than CNAs, LPNs are the only ones in this group that can be called "nurses". They have more autonomy than CNAs, although they still work under the supervision of RNs and doctors. They help with tasks that go beyond basic care, including administering injections/first aid, assisting with minor surgeries, updating health records, and more. Because of this, LPNs require more education and training (1-2 years), and they also tend to have higher salaries.
- Medical Assistants (MA). While CNAs work under the supervision of nurses, and LPNs under the direction of both doctors and nurses, MAs work solely under the supervision of a physician and mostly in outpatient settings, like private doctor's offices or outpatient care centers. They administer medications, take/record vital signs, give immunizations and breathing treatments and, in some cases, help with minor in-office procedures. Like LPNs, MAs require more training than CNAs (9 months-2 years).
Choosing a CNA Program
Be sure to do some research before you decide on the right CNA program for you. In most states there are many options for CNA training, including independent training schools and community colleges. Some facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals and home health agencies will offer training to staff or prospective employees. While federal requirements are the same, it's important to note that admission, curriculum, and certification requirements will differ depending on the state you live in. You can check with your state to learn about these requirements and to verify that a program is state-approved.
Many states have additional program information available, such as state certification exam pass rates or any regulatory action that has been taken. After you've done your initial research, your decision will come down to personal issues like cost, location, length of program, and whether the courses are offered at a convenient time.
CNA Salaries, Career Growth, and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook is bright for CNAs. Overall employment is expected to grow four percent between now and 2032. That means there will be 210,000 openings each year over the next decade. While salaries will vary depending on where you live and the type of facility you work in, the median salary for CNAs in the U.S. is $35,760 (as of May 2022*).
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