Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are health care workers trained to do hands-on work with patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Work is also available in home health care. Because of the work they do, nursing assistants are the backbone of the health care system.
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What to Know About a Career as a Nursing Assistant
Nursing assistants work with patients to perform personal tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Sometimes the work can be unpleasant and physically demanding. Nursing assistants must be patient and able to handle emergencies and effectively communicate with other staff as well as patients and their families. A career as a nursing assistant or nursing aide can be very rewarding for those who enjoy helping others.
Nursing assistant training programs last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how many hours per week are included in the program. Most states require that you have a high school diploma or GED to participate in a nursing assistant program and you must pass an accreditation exam, given by the Board of Nursing in your state, to obtain your nursing assistant certificate.
Salaries and Opportunities for Nursing Assistants
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for certified nursing assistants vary across the country, with the median being $11.46 per hour. The job outlook is good as more people age and need physical assistance, either at home or in the hospital. In fact, the need for qualified nurses aides is expected to grow by 18% between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than many other occupations.