By Karen P Williams

Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, help bed-ridden patients perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Most work in assisted living centers with the elderly or in home hospice care situations. It is a challenging yet rewarding occupation. This is a job that calls for an abundance of patience, compassion, and maturity.

When the job becomes stressful, the assistants must be able to handle it well; they truly have compassion for the patients they are caring for. There is a high demand for nursing assistants so if you possess the right qualities and can be a team player, this job in the health care profession is a good choice.

Required Training and Where to Receive It

In order to become a certified nursing assistant, you must complete a training course. Specific requirements vary depending on the state you live in. Training may be anywhere from 75-125 hours and take 2-18 weeks to complete. CNA online courses are offered by the Red Cross and community colleges.


They may also be offered at local healthcare facilities as a type of work-study program. CNA online training courses are available but they are usually a mix of online classroom instruction along with clinical training at an on-site location.

CNA Online Coursework

CNA online courses may be offered by community colleges, vocational colleges, and non-profit healthcare associations. The coursework will instruct students on subjects like bedside nursing duties, nursing theory, nutrition, infection prevention and control, and anatomy. Other topics may include record keeping, professional etiquette, client rights, mental health, and available social services.

The format of the online courses may include virtual web classroom instruction, video conferencing, interactive discussion boards, or independent study. You may obtain your clinical training at a healthcare location such as a hospital or an assisted living facility while working with a licensed nurse.

The State Exam

After completing your coursework and training, you will need to pass a state exam to become certified. There are two parts to the test – a written exam and a clinical skills test. The skills test will measure competency in areas such as feeding, dressing, patient communication, and proper hygiene. Often, you will be allowed to work after you complete your coursework for a short time before you test for your certification.

Preparing for Your CNA Career

A great way to prepare for becoming a CNA is to volunteer at a local hospital or nursing home. You will gain experience as well as see first-hand what this type of career will involve. It will give you an idea of what it is like to work in the healthcare field and help you determine if this type of work is right for you.

Becoming a CNA is not the right career move for everyone. While there is high demand in the healthcare field for nursing assistants, the turnover rate is high. The work is hard and often the pay does not reflect this but those who love helping people will find this a rewarding career.

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