There are four steps to becoming a CNA:
Earn your high school diploma or GED;
Complete state-approved CNA training (available online or at hospitals, community colleges, or The Red Cross);
Complete in-person clinical requirement;
Pass the certification exam & get listed on your state’s CNA registry.
Becoming a CNA is, at least compared to many other medical professions, fast and simple. But that doesn’t mean you can cruise through the work with little to no effort. Although the program is fast, the classes do require focus and commitment.
The only prerequisite for entering a CNA program is a high school diploma or equivalent. If you don’t have this diploma, you will need to go through the steps to complete your GED. However, if you graduated high school, you should meet the basic requirements for a CNA education.
The program and educational requirement for becoming a CNA will vary by state, so be sure to check the regulations in your area for complete details on becoming a certified nursing assistant. You can find programs that meet CNA educational requirements offered by many institutions and organizations. While a community college is often the setting for CNA courses, they are offered at high schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. You can also take online CNA classes, although you will need to complete a short period of in-person, on-the-job training.
Once you find a state-approved education program, you can enter into the classes and begin your education. Most CNA programs take about one to four months to complete, depending on the institution and how rapidly the classes are offered.
During your coursework, you will study topics like anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and pharmacology. These classes will include mostly brief studies into each subject, which prepares you, in a short amount of time, to communicate and interact with nurses and doctors in the medical profession.
Before the program is over, students will have to complete on-site training, which is typically called “clinical studies” or “clinical work.” During this phase of your education, CNA students will work under the guidance of a medical professional, such as a registered nurse. This will give students direct experience in the types of jobs they will be completing, including vital signs, changing bedding, and providing patient comfort. Clinical work is not only required, it’s a valuable step for gaining direct experience in the medical setting.