One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is finding the right CNA program. You can take your pick from a variety of options, including online and offline courses and programs offered by community colleges, local hospitals, and other facilities. The application process will go more smoothly when you've done plenty of research. After all, you're only going to want to apply to one program, so it pays to select the right one the first time.
Six Useful Tips for Applying to CNA Programs
Before submitting your application to a CNA program, consider the following six points:
- Online or Offline - While investigating CNA programs, you'll see that some are primarily conducted online, while others are conducted in classrooms. Which option is right for you? That depends on how busy your life is in general. If you work full time or have other important responsibilities, an online program is probably the best option. However, if you aren't confident in your ability to keep up with an online course, you should probably choose one that is held at a local school or other facility.
- Program Length - How quickly would you like to become a CNA? If you'd like to become eligible to apply for jobs as quickly as possible, choose a program that can be completed in a few weeks. If time isn't a major concern, you may benefit from selecting a longer, more in-depth program.
- Accreditation - You won't be eligible to sit for your licensing exam without completing a state-approved CNA program from an accredited institution. Before applying to one, make sure it is approved by the state and the school is accredited by a reputable accreditation body. The Accreditation Commission for Education (ACEN) is one example; the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is another. There may also be accreditation bodies specific to your state, so investigate them too.
- Reputation - Only apply to reputable CNA programs. Accreditation of the school alone isn't enough. The right program will also have positive reviews from former students, so do some searching around online. How do former students feel about the program? Did it prepare them fully for future employment? Was the course length too long or too short? Thanks to the Internet, it's easy to find out what others have to say, so take the time to do so.
- Connections - Ideally, the CNA program you apply to will have useful connections with local hospitals and other facilities. Many times, you can be connected with a job directly through your program. Also, the best programs have connections with industry organizations that help you forge connections that will help you advance your career in the future.
- Advanced Educational Opportunities - Even if you plan to remain a CNA throughout your career, it never hurts to keep your options open. With that in mind, consider applying to programs that also offer CNA-to-RN bridge programs and the like. Later, if you decide to progress into a role as an RN or into another healthcare role, you can do so at the same place. They'll already have your transcripts, and you'll already be familiar with how things work.
Don't choose a CNA program at random. Put some time and effort into researching the available options prior to applying. By doing so, you should only have to apply once, which will make the whole experience a lot easier, and you'll quickly be on your way to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant.