According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified nursing assistants provide much of the routine care that patients in hospitals and long-term living facilities need. They brush hair, feed patients, help patients walk to the bathroom, take vital signs and more -- whatever it takes to help their patients maintain as much of a normal lifestyle as they can while retaining their dignity. CNA programs are available at technical schools, vocational schools and in many healthcare facilities. Much of the classroom studies can be done via the internet; however, the clinical studies, which involve working in actual healthcare settings with patients under direct supervision, must be done in person. No internet classes can replace this step in training.
Start with your local community college. Many local colleges, such as the Horry-Georgetown Technical College in South Carolina, offer CNA courses, and you can take several of the requisite courses online. You must have a high school diploma or its equivalent to apply. On top of this, potential students must pass a background check since the nature of their jobs involves being responsible and trustworthy.
Make sure the college you wish to attend online is approved by your state. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, once you've finished your training, you must then pass a two-part exam to earn certification. Both the exam and the certification you earn are state-administered. When you pass, you'll also be placed on your state's registry as a CNA.
Avoid online colleges that claim to offer CNA training exclusively through the internet. It isn't possible for a student to learn the one-on-one patient interaction that clinical instruction provides. The well-known University of Phoenix is one example of an online college that doesn't offer any entry-level healthcare classes because the necessary training that goes on outside of the classroom is impossible to do while sitting in front of a computer. For example, Missouri requires CNAs to complete 75 hours of classwork in addition to the 100 hours of on-the-job training, in order to apply for the exam.
Check with your school's financial aid department to see if you qualify for assistance. The New York Times states that federal aid programs are generally geared toward traditional degree-earning programs, meaning the majority of certificate programs aren't eligible. However, there may be local sources for funding that your school can tell you about, such as privately funded grants and scholarships.
- Register for classes a few weeks ahead of time to ensure your background check is complete before class starts.
- The exam involves both written and practical examinations.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant
- Missouri Department of Health and Human Services: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- University of Phoenix: Online Schools, Classes and Degree Programs
- Horry-Georgetown Technical College: Class Catalog
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants Do
- The New York Times: Financial Aid is Scarce for Job-Training Certificates
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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