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Q&A: “How do I become a CNA?”


iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

Ever thought about becoming a CNA…but aren’t exactly sure how or where to start? We’ve rounded up all of the info you need to know to see if it’s the right career path for you!

The 411 on CNAs

The person providing hands-on care at nursing homes and hospitals is known as the professional Certified Nursing Aide, Certified Nursing Assistant or “CNA.” A CNA is considered a direct caregiver and also provides care for seniors in their homes as employees of senior home care agencies. Because of the job description, CNAs are often referred to as Home Health Aides and Personal Care Assistants.

Pencils and books

When it comes to getting your schooling in, you’ll want to check with your state to see what’s required of you. Certification requirements vary based on each state’s laws and licensing regulations.

Training day

CNAs are trained at community colleges, community service programs and sometimes hospitals. These can be full-time day programs that only last for a couple months, or evening programs, which last longer.

Field experience, which involves working in an actual care setting like a nursing home, is required for nursing aide students to apply the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. Background checks, drug testing and necessary immunizations are also required for completion of the nursing certificate.

Work it out

Once you’ve graduated, CNAs can find employment at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, senior day care centers, senior home care agencies, hospices and community senior service programs. (Is that enough options for you?!) While CNAs are often supervised by RNs, the nursing aide is the person who has daily contact with the senior and can be the most valuable source of information about the senior’s condition for doctors and family members.

Sound like a good fit for you? Here are some of the duties expected of CNAs:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Feeding
  • Toileting
  • Vital signs
  • Catheter care
  • Assists with ambulation
  • Range of Motion Exercises
  • Assists into and out of wheelchairs
  • Makes beds, changes bed linens
  • Turns bedridden patients every two hours, to prevent bedsores
  • Provides updates to care plans to supervisor
  • Monitors safety
  • Documents daily care provided in care plan notes
  • Light housekeeping to maintain cleanliness

In addition to providing assistance for a senior’s physical care needs, a CNA also provides emotional support. They’re often the only person a senior has regular interactions with, and because of this, the senior will lean on them…which can be a little stressful! CNAs are trained to relieve that stress by talking to co-workers and supervisors, exercising, meditating and using humor (something every CNA needs to have in spades!).

Are you a CNA? Interested in becoming one? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below! provides information on becoming a Certified Nursing Aide and working as a Certified Nursing Aide for a senior home care agency. is the nation’s online destination dedicated to connecting seniors with quality senior care choices. helps seniors and their loved ones define care needs, understand the many caregiving options and costs and connect to senior home care agencies that meet’s checklist of quality standards. is also a leading caregiving career and recruitment resource. Visit for more information.


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