The first step on your journey to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is completing a program. You can take your pick from many options. However, you shouldn't just select one at random. These programs vary considerably in many regards, so it is crucial to do plenty of research. By taking certain things into consideration, you can more easily find a CNA program that works perfectly for you.
Top 8 Considerations to Make When Looking for CNA Education
Keep the following points in mind to ensure you choose the right CNA program the first time:
- Program Length - Most CNA programs last four to 12 weeks. How much time can you spare? If possible, it's generally best to complete a longer program because it will more adequately prepare you. If you need to get your license quickly so that you can apply for jobs sooner, however, a shorter one is okay too.
- Online or Offline? - Do you have the flexibility that's needed to complete all of your CNA education in person? If you have a job or other responsibilities, this may be tricky. Online education is probably best in that instance, but keep in mind that you'll still need to complete in-person clinical practice.
- Location - Some employers offer state-approved on-the-job education for aspiring CNAs. Otherwise, such programs are typically offered by community colleges, junior colleges, and vocational and technical schools. If you are thinking about moving forward to become an RN someday, look for a school that offers CNA-to-RN bridge programs too.
- Cost - Needless to say, your budget will affect the program you ultimately choose. Fortunately, CNA programs are typically very affordable. You may even find one that costs as little as a little over $500. Sometimes, employers even pay for this learning if they desperately need licensed CNAs.
- Advancement Opportunities - If there's even the slightest chance that you will want to move into more advanced roles later, choose a program by an institution that also offers LPN programs, RN programs, and the like. That way, the school will already have your transcripts from your CNA education, and moving forward will be easier.
- Clinical Practice - Before applying for a CNA course, find out where the clinical practice will be conducted. It's usually held at hospitals and nursing homes. Find out how many hours are required as well. Some programs are more stringent in this regard than others.
- Credentials - Make absolutely certain that the program you select is approved by the state where you will obtain your license. If it's not, you will not be eligible to sit for the CNA competency exam, and all of your schooling will be pointless.
- Reputation - After zeroing in on a particular program, go online to see what others have to say about it. Do former students have generally favorable things to say, or are there a lot of negative reviews? Read reviews carefully too. Sometimes, the issues one person had may not be such a problem for you. Seek out programs with reviews from people who were able to pass their exams easily.
CNA education isn't much difficult. However, the exact program you choose has a profound effect on how long it will take and on how prepared you are for your competency exam and career, so make sure to choose wisely.