CNA Job Description (Salary, Certification, Training, Skills & More)

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By Mike Simpson

If you’re looking for the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry, look no further than the Certified Practical Nurse (CNA). They fly through hospitals and clinics, donning scrubs and proper shoes instead of capes and chunky boots. They deftly carry out their duties with CNA, allowing the virtues of patient care to be their beacon in the night sky, guiding their every move.

When a citizen (patient) needs help, he is there, without a doubt. And, when they are recognized for the incredible work they do, they don’t expect a parade. Instead, with a simple smile, they say, “I’m just doing my job. But this work is making a difference, a bigger one than many people realize.

What is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)?

A CNA is a medical professional who wears a shocking number of hats. However, the primary responsibilities of CNA still focus on one thing: to be the superhero of basic patient care.

All CNA manages a variety of routine tasks that are essential in the health care industry. Lots of tThe treatments are administered by the CNAs. Plus, they provide a ton of direct patient support. As a rule, the work is not glamorous, but it is of indescribable importance.

In addition, a CNA is a communication channel. They listen to patient concerns and discuss them with other medical staff as needed.

What are the duties and responsibilities of an NCA?

A CNA job description can vary widely. While their primary focus is usually the same, the exact CNA duties they take on will depend on the environment in which they work. You can find the DACs in hospitals, clinics, serviced residences, and providing care in patients’ homes. Each of these environments has a unique set of responsibilities, so no two CNA roles are the same.

However, there are some CNA tasks that are incredibly common. Here is a list of what you can expect to do as a CNA:

    • Help with tasks of daily living, including eating
    • Provide personal hygiene assistance, including bathing and emptying bedpans
    • Lift, move, move or physically support patients with reduced mobility
    • Check vital signs
    • Collect specimens
    • Examine patients for injuries, including bruises, cuts and scrapes
    • Clothing injuries
    • Record patient information on records
    • Maintain electronic medical records
    • Administer medications or treatments (as directed by a doctor or nurse)
    • Set up medical equipment
    • Changing linens
    • Restock rooms with medical supplies

And, while it’s not part of the official CNA job description, many working in these roles also provide mental and emotional support to patients and their families. They listen when people are worried or afraid, and try to calm any fear. Sometimes they are just chatting with patients, giving them a sense of connection during what can be a very difficult time.

NACs aren’t just mysterious superheroes rushing through the night. They are beacons of hope, guidance and support, as well as healers.

MIKE’S TIP: This part of the job is a potential area where you can outperform your competition in a CNA job interview. A lot of your competition might just focus on their day-to-day tasks and forget to stress their ability to connect and empathize with their patients. Remember to emphasize these qualities when answering the interview questions. It might just make the difference between you and another candidate.

What skills do CNAs need?

If you want to be a true CNA hero, you need the right mix of skills. In addition to the technical skills, you should also have the right soft skills. Otherwise, you will not be able to do everything that is stated in a CNA job description.

Since the most practical part of the equation is technical capabilities, let’s start there. Here’s a look at what a CNA needed:

    • Medical terminology
    • Control and prevention of infectious diseases
    • Measure vital signs
    • Wound dressing
    • Maintaining medical records and mapping
    • Ambulation, patient movement
    • Hand hygiene
    • Patient mouth and foot care
    • Food
    • Catheter care
    • Bowl

However, you can’t stop there. You also need great soft skills. Think of it this way, in the land of superheroes, you want to make sure you’re not a surly CNA Batman. Instead, you want to be your friendly NAC Spiderman neighborhood, and Soft Skills help you do that.

Here is a list of the soft skills that are an essential part of CNA’s functions:

    • Empathy
    • Compassion
    • Communication
    • Management of time
    • Organization
    • Attention to detail
    • Reliability
    • Responsibility
    • Problem solving
    • Critical mind
    • Good physical shape
    • Ethics

It’s important to note that the above skills are just the tip of the iceberg. Because every job is different, employers may have others they want to find. But this list gives you a solid baseline because it represents what many medical institutions look for when hiring an NCA.

What type of CNA training, education and certification do I need?

In the medical field, CNA’s position is quite unique.

Why?

Because you don’t need a bachelor’s degree or higher to work. However, you still need formal training from CNA.

Each CNA must complete a state-approved training program. Usually, you can find them at community colleges, technical schools, or vocational schools. The exact length of the program may vary, but it typically lasts about three months.

Upon completion of the program, you must also pass a certification exam administered by a state government agency. The exact agency involved varies from state to state, although most of them focus on health or nursing. For example, in Arizona, certifications are administered by the Arizona State Board of Nursing. In Washington, it’s the Washington State Department of Health.

Without passing the exam, you are not licensed in your state and cannot work as a CNA. This is part of why participating in an approved training program is so important; it gives you all the information you need to earn your DAC superhero cape credits.

What are the salary expectations?

To say that DACs are in demand is an understatement. More than 1.5 million positions exist. In addition, the need for CNA is increasing much faster than average. Between 2018 and 2028, 135,400 jobs will be created. This is in addition to the million and a half or so that are already there.

The median salary for CNAs across the country is $ 13.72 per hour. However, it is possible to earn more. The richest 10% of NACs make over $ 41,460 per year, which is pretty solid income.

In addition, some NACs use their position as a stepping stone. They continue to learn on the job and stay in school, which allows them to become a graduate nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or nurse practitioner (NP), for example. This can dramatically increase a person’s earning potential, while still allowing them to stay in a field they’ve grown to love.

What you need to know for your job interview

While CNAs are in demand, that doesn’t mean you can just jump into your interview and expect to get hired without wasting time preparing. If you want to present yourself as the superhero that you really are, then you have to do better than that.

For example, you’ll want to tear up the CNA job description for the job. It’s packed with details that let you know what the recruiter wants to find, so it’s a great resource.

You’ll also want to revisit how to deal with behavioral interview questions using the STAR method and the personalization method. Finally, don’t forget to check out the top CNA interview questions. This way you will know what to expect.

MIKE’S TIP: While you usually don’t want to focus too much on exercise habits during an interview, as they are often unrelated to the role, there may be an exception when you want a CNA job. Since the position requires physical strength and endurance, don’t be afraid to mention your physical accomplishments. For example, if you’re competing in Tough Mudder races or Spartan races, talk about it. Even being part of an intramural sports team or just training regularly can be worth talking about, as long as it’s engaging. It makes your physical abilities clearer, so it can really work in your favor.

Put it all together

When you really think about it, NACs are superheroes. Without them, the entire medical industry could collapse and patients may not receive all the care they need to be cured.

Whether you are currently working as a CNA or want to join their ranks, keep the above information in mind. It will allow you to know where to focus your efforts, ensuring that you bring everything you need and that you can move your career at CNA in the right direction.

Discover our others “Job description items” if you are exploring career options:

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