A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, ranks in one of the lowest positions in the health care field, yet often spends more time with patients than anyone. In 2010, the median income for a CNA, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $11.54 an hour. While the rewards of being a CNA may not show up in your paycheck, you can make all the difference in the lives of your patient while ensuring you have a stable job.
The simple yet vitally important tasks of bathing, eating, dressing and toileting all fall under the purview of your duties, especially when you work in a nursing home or long-term care facility, where 55 percent of CNAs find jobs. As an efficient and caring professional, you will be the one who can help elderly clients maintain dignity during trying times.
Yours may be the only smiling face a patient sees all day. CNAs often work with people during the end of their lives. It takes a compassionate nature to be a CNA; you must believe that being caring and courteous is more important than earning big bucks.
Fill a Void
You play an important role in the overall treatment of patients, especially in nursing homes where patients might see a nurse only once a day and the doctor even more seldom. Your reward is knowing that without your service, there would be a void in the daily care and treatment of patients who are bedridden or unable to care for themselves. Through your efforts, you help doctors and nurses complete their treatment plans.
Help Families Survive
You’ll have the gratitude of patients’ families as well when they know their parents or loved ones are being treated with compassion and competency. The adult children of aging seniors might be relieved of worry about placing parents in a nursing home when they have someone like you taking care of them. Because the health care system relies so heavily on the day-to-day tasks you perform, families can continue to work and take care of the rest of their obligations, without having to do those duties you so ably perform every day.
You can start a career as a certified nursing assistant in a relatively short time compared to other careers. Many community colleges and technical schools offer courses that last about six weeks. CNAs are unlicensed health professionals, so you don’t need to have additional testing or education; just get your name on your state’s unlicensed health care worker registry and you’re good to go. Finally, your CNA certification can serve as a steppingstone to other careers in medicine; many nursing schools look at experience when reviewing applications.
The field is expected to grow by about 20 percent at least through the year 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster than the 14 percent that's average among all occupations. The United States also is experiencing a shortage in registered nurses, making it even more important that nurses have sufficient backup from CNAs. In most hospitals and nursing homes, you’ll earn health care and vacation benefits. Then there’s the flexibility you’ll enjoy. Nurses’ aides work 24-hour schedules, so in addition to the wide range of opportunities in everything from in-home care to nursing homes and hospitals, you’ll have options for the shifts that work best with your schedule.
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