Becoming a CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, doesn't take long. Most CNA programs take anywhere from four to 12 weeks to complete. Most of the learning is hands-on, but some classroom instruction is also included. In the classroom, you can expect to cover a variety of topics. By knowing what to expect during CNA education, including the types of courses and subjects you will cover, you'll be better able to make the most of the experience.
Six Common CNA Courses You Can Expect to Take During Your Program
Although CNA programs vary, the vast majority cover the following subjects and courses:
- CNA Theory - This course covers issues that affect CNAs. It is typically the first course completed by aspiring CNAs because it provides a general overview of the types of duties they'll be performing. Students learn about infection control, hygiene management, data collection, and related topics. They also receive hands-on education in techniques like drawing blood and taking patients' blood pressure.
- Fundamentals of Nursing - To ensure that CNAs can properly assist RNs, most programs have them complete a fundamentals of nursing course. This subject covers the basic topics and methods affecting how nurses do their jobs. In addition to covering the basics of patient care, it provides crucial information about the ethical and legal aspects of the job.
- Anatomy and Physiology - Although CNAs don't medically intervene with patients, it is helpful if they know the basics of human anatomy and physiology. In their line of work, they will hear many medical terms bandied about, and this type of course acquaints them with such terminology. All major bodily functions and systems are covered, and the course also ties everything together to show how various systems work in conjunction with one another.
- Nutrition - CNAs are typically responsible for delivering meals to patients and, in many cases, feeding them. Therefore, understanding the basics of nutrition is a requirement. This type of course introduces aspiring CNAs to basic nutrition facts that they can then pass along to patients. Many patients have restricted diets, and this type of course explains how to cope with such scenarios.
- Acute Care - Knowing the fundamentals of caring for patients is a requirement for CNAs. This course introduces CNAs to the psychological, social, and physical requirements of patients. It covers crucial topics like decision-making, problem solving, assessment, time management, and prioritizing, which are skills that any successful and effective CNA should possess. While most learning is done in the field, this course helps CNAs prepare for patient-related situations they're sure to encounter often.
- Clinical Care - This isn't a course as much as an entirely separate unit of instruction. Most CNA programs follow up the preceding courses with clinical, hands-on instruction. This segment allows CNAs in school to put their new knowledge to work. It's a crucial part of any CNA program because aspiring CNAs must successfully complete a clinical section during their state licensing exams. Everything from changing beds to bathing patients is covered.
CNA programs have two goals: to prepare CNAs for their new careers and to help them pass their state licensing exams. Both objectives are important, so it pays to give it your all from day one. Like most students, you'll probably find some topics easy and others trickier. With enough studying and preparation, however, you'll successfully complete the program and will be ready to take your exam.