It is Certified Nursing Assistants Week and is the perfect time to learn about the crucial role Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and how an individual can start a career as an CAN, and the various career paths this role will open for people starting in their health care career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2021 there are more than 825,000 CNAs working in the United States. With the growing need for senior care over the next decade, the career opportunities for CNAs to enter the health and senior care sector are growing as well. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), by 2030, it is estimated that 24 million Americans will need SNF care.
What do Certified Nursing Assistants do in skilled nursing facilities?
Certified Nursing Assistants have a variety of roles in helping provide a complete circle of care for residents that include clinical care, rehabilitation, and nutritional services. CNAs will help residents with activities of daily living (ADLs).
SNF residents often need assistance with at least one of six basic ADLs that include ambulating or moving freely throughout the center, feeding, dressing oneself, personal hygiene activities such as bathing, hair care or brushing teeth, continence, and toileting.
In addition to CNAs assisting residents with bathing, dressing, eating, and moving around, they may also help monitor residents’ vital signs, help participate in social activities or community outings, take them outside for fresh air. CNAs often have a lot of time with residents and provide support and companionship.
How to become a CNA?
There are many ways one can start their health care career as an CNA. Many community colleges, vocational and technical schools offer classes. Additionally, many SNFs offer free CNA classes that will provide hands-on training, course work and online instruction. Classes can usually be over a six- or eight-week period.
After the completion of the courses, graduates typically must pass a state exam before becoming fully licensed and able to meet the full duties described above. Until the individual passes the exam and can fully provide care to residents, they make work as a temporary aide in a SNF.
Career Paths for CNAs:
There are many career paths for people wanting to be begin their health care career as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Many health care professionals, including SNF administrators, began their career as a certified nursing assistant. The position often exposes them to many different aspects of SNF care and the roles they play in providing care to residents. Some of the career paths that CNAs have gone on to further their education and career may include:
• Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) – many schools also offer a CNA to LPN bridge program that may allow credits earned to receive a CNA license and apply to becoming an LPN.
• Registered Nurse
• Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (NHA)
During National Certified Nursing Assistants Week, take the time to thank CNAs that may be caring for a loved one, and share the incredible opportunities becoming a CNA can provide.
Author: Brandon S. Totten
Digital Media Coordinator, Kissito Healthcare