Certified Nursing Assistant A Closer Look

By Dave Cahill

When most people hear the term “Certified Nursing Assistant” (better known as CNA), the first thing that comes to mind is a career in a nursing home. While it’s true that this is probably the industry’s biggest demand for CNAs, there are other places to use this certification. But what exactly is a CNA, and how can it work for you?

The Certified Nursing Assistant is a person who aids in the daily care of those needing nursing care. Think there’s nothing to the job? Think again.

One of the first things many nurses say they learned is that nursing isn’t about dispensing medicines, giving shots or even taking orders from the doctor. It’s all about learning to listen to your patients. The CNA training takes that to a very basic level and the job of the CNA is often vital to the effective medical treatment of other health care professionals. For example, the CNA who spends the most time with a nursing home patient may be the first to notice a change in that person’s attitude that reflects a serious medical condition or a reaction to a change in their drug regimen. And while some people are simply observant enough to notice those kinds of things, learning what to do with the information is a vital part of the training for the Certified Nursing Assistant.


But is there anything else you can do with CNA training other than work in a nursing home? CNAs are also commonly called on for home visitation. Typically, these are older people or those with disabilities who have trouble performing routine daily tasks. The CNA may help the person get a bath or handle other chores. Think it’s not that important. Consider it from the view of the person receiving the help. Without the services of that CNA, that person would likely be moved to a nursing home, rehabilitation facility or be forced to live with relatives – devastating for some people.

Some daycares and schools also employ CNAs to help handle minor health issues at school. While these CNAs don’t dispense medication or do any of those jobs handled by a nurse, they do use their training to help children with health issues and help the school deflect problems before they become serious issues. A CNA for a school will quickly learn to spot infections and to help curb the spread of problems such as ringworm.

CNAs may also work in rehabilitation programs or similar facilities. While licensed professionals will do therapy, the CNAs often have more time to devote to patients, meaning they develop relationships and become an integral part of the recovery process.

If you’ve considered a job in health care – especially in nursing – the CNA could be just what you need. You can work in the industry while you’re working on your degree in nursing as an LPN or RN. On the other hand, you may very well find that a Certified Nursing Degree isn’t a stepping stone to some other career, but is a rewarding career in itself.

If the allure of a nursing career appeals to you, check out the links below.

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