A certified nursing assistant spends the majority of time giving direct patient care. After as little as six weeks of training and passing your state’s competency exams, you can become a CNA and find a job in the burgeoning health care arena, especially taking care of senior citizens in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. One way to boost your pay and make yourself more marketable is to take a few more classes and earn a CNA II certification.
Once you complete your CNA II exams and update your credentials on your state’s unlicensed health care registry, you continue to do many of the same jobs you did when you had your initial CNA certification. You’ll assist patients with bathing, dressing, eating and elimination. You’ll work closely with patients helping them with other activities of daily living such as transferring from the bed to a chair, performing minor physical therapy routines and turning in bed to prevent bed sores. You’ll work under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse.
The CNA II job description usually involves acute care that includes duties that don’t fall under the purview of the CNA I. The CNA II is often in much bigger demand than a CNA I. You’ll make a little more money because you can perform more tasks and you’ll be able to work in a range of facilities. For example, since 2009 the Asante Health System hospitals in Oregon only hired those assistants who have achieved CNA II status. It’s much easier to get into many hospitals with the advanced certification because you’re trained in more depth on safety procedures, preventing complications and recording patient outcomes.
As a CNA, you’ll be trained to take patient vitals like blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. A CNA II can also collect urine samples, attach EKG leads and remove catheters. You’ll be able to perform tracheostomy cleaning and set up oxygen therapy for patients in their rooms. You can break up and remove fecal impaction, and change some sterile dressings. While CNAs may have to measure the amount of fluid intake from patients receiving nutrition intravenously, the CNA II can assemble, monitor and discontinue the feeding.
States vary in their requirements, but in most areas, you must complete CNA training before being allowed to go for the advanced certifications. Some health care facilities provide on-the-job training and classes for CNAs to get them ready to take state-certified exams for the advanced designations. You may need an additional week of classroom training as well as clinical hours in other places. In some states, you can even specialize in certain treatments, such as dementia care, rehab or acute care. Check with your state’s board of nursing office to find out what steps you need to take to get that additional training and certification to become a CNA II.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."