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Certified Nursing Assistant

Updated on November 4, 2012

CNA’s: The Basics

CNAs assist patients with their medical needs, and usually do so under the supervision of another nurse with a higher authority-either a registered nurse [RN] or a Licensed Practical Nurse [LPN]. They have been known by various titles, such as Nursing Assistant [NA], Patient Care Assistant [PCA], State-Tested Nurse Aid [STNA], an orderly, or a home health care aide. A CNA acts as a liaison between the LPN or RN and a patient.

Among all nursing positions, the CNA is the one who has the most direct contact with the patient; needless to say they are in the best position to gather information about the patient's condition and pass that information on to their superiors. They handle most of the tasks required to keep the patient in good condition-giving them daily baths, overseeing their medication and mealtimes, answering calls for the patient, tucking them into bed and dressing their wounds whenever necessary.

Being a CNA is not for everyone. It takes someone with a great deal of patience, compassion and understanding. It is not simply about earning a paycheck, it is about helping your fellow man.

Due to the fact that the baby boomer generation is aging and there are more and more elderly patients who need personal care, there is currently a huge demand for CNAs. In fact, there are continuous CNA shortages in several places, not only in the United States but in other countries as well.

For people who are pursuing a nursing job, becoming a CNA is often the first step into the nursing industry and the easiest position to get into. There are trainings offered by community colleges, online schools, medical facilities and even the Red Cross.

But more than the educational attainment, a CNA needs to be compassionate and extremely patient. A good attitude is a must-have, as a CNA will be in direct contact with the patient. A CNA may face difficult, violent or emotionally disturbed patients.

Should he wish to do so, a CNA can advance in the hierarchy by becoming an LPN or a Licensed Practicing Nurse. This will open several avenues for career growth.

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