This is the only entry-level position in nursing care. Most CNAs work in hospitals, nursing homes or residential care facilities. They provide basic care for patients who are acutely ill, convalescent or elderly. CNAs check and record patient temperature, blood pressure, weight, pulse and respiration. They report changes in patient condition to the professional nursing staff. They assist patients in eating, bathing and dressing. CNAs help patients walk or take them in wheelchairs to treatment, examinations, activities and social programs. Other duties may include directing visitors, answering the phone or cleaning equipment.
To become a CNA, applicants must be at least 16 years of age, meet the pre-screening requirements (see below), submit fingerprints upon enrollment, complete a minimum of 150 hours of training and successfully complete a State competency exam upon completion of the training.
Applicants must have a physical exam and provide a report prepared by a physician, physicians' assistant, or nurse practitioner stating that the applicant has no health condition that would create a hazard to her/himself, fellow employees, residents or visitors. The report must describe the applicant's medical history and physical examination, and the result of a (PPD) skin test for tuberculosis, unless medically contradicted. CNA applicants may not have contact with residents until they obtain a report that confirms there is no health hazard for any positive skin test (with or without a chest x-ray).
Conviction Screening - before registering for a CNA training program, applicants should review the list of convictions provided by the State of California Department of Health Services, Licensing and Certification that constitute an automatic denial of their application. (Anything other than a minor traffic violation will be reviewed.)
CNAs who care for Medicare patients in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities must be certified or must enroll in CNA training within four months of being hired. Certification requires a 150-hour course at a community college, vocational school or adult school and certification by the State, as well as continuing education units (CEUs) that may be provided by the facility. Hospital CNAs require certification. Training can also be obtained while in high school. Training can begin at age 15, but an individual cannot be certified until the age of 16.
Links to Additional Career Information
California Department of Health Services (916) 327-2445 www.dhs.ca.gov/lnc/cert
National Association of Geriatric Nursing Assistants (417) 623-6049 www.nagna.org
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