Nursing assistants are vital employees at hospitals, nursing homes and residential care centers. Since they help patients with daily activities, like exercise and personal care, CNAs often have the most contact with patients and must perform a range of tasks that require proper training. Online courses and programs can help prospective CNAs gain the skills and knowledge needed to become certified and pursue nursing assistant careers. CNA students can get started by learning more about the perks of online classes and how to find a program that meets their needs.
Be at least 16 years old
Hold a high school diploma or GED
Supply school transcripts and test scores
Pass a physical examination, including immunizations
Have good English reading, writing and comprehension skills
Have reliable access to a computer with internet
Requirements for CNAs vary between states, so students should make sure their online program meets the requirements of the state in which they plan to practice. CNA students cannot practice or become certified or licensed if their program is not state approved.
Since a college degree is not required to become a CNA, nursing assistant programs are generally not accredited by the customary higher education accreditation bodies. However, students can gauge the quality of their online CNA program by finding out whether the school’s main nursing program is accredited, and by which bodies. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) both provide accreditation for nursing degree programs.
In order to pass their certification exams, CNA students must demonstrate both their theoretical and practical knowledge. Most online courses provide students with a working knowledge of CNA duties and protocol, and hands-on experience through skill labs and shadowing in a clinical setting prepare students to perform competently in real-world nursing assistant situations.
CNA courses vary in length depending on the school and type of program sought, but they are generally designed to be completed in a short period of time. They often require between 90 and 180 hours, including clinical time.
Online CNA students benefit from extra flexibility that allows them to choose the type of school and program best suited to their needs and career goals, even if it’s not nearby. Prospective students can find online CNA courses at these types of institutions:
These public schools are generally inexpensive and provide many different course and program options to students.
For-profit schools can be flexible and efficient, but they must generate revenue and, as a result, can be expensive.
Trade and vocational schools focus on hands-on, practical training.
Some hospitals and health facilities provide online CNA training and are great places to earn clinical hours.
These schools can be either public or private and are a good option for students who want to pursue nursing degrees and are interested in the “college experience.”
Nursing assistants care for and ensure the safety of patients in a variety of settings, so a comprehensive understanding of CNA duties and the ability to perform them is essential. From knowing how to check vital signs to making sure patients feel comfortable during self-care routines, CNAs can expect a wide range of learning outcomes from their programs.
Pursuing nursing assistant education comes with many benefits, like opening up job opportunities in a fast-growing field and building a solid foundation for educational and career advancement. Students who receive their CNA training online are privy to additional perks.
One of the biggest benefits to taking CNA classes online is the ability to access coursework and learn from anywhere an internet connection is available. This opens up many opportunities for students who don’t live near schools with CNA programs and those with busy schedules.
Similarly, the online format allows CNA students to learn at their own pace at times that work best for them. Rather than carve out a few hours each day to attend class, students can log on to their courses for a few minutes multiple times a day or dedicate one full day each week to their studies. Online CNA courses give students increased control of their time.
Many online CNA courses let students choose where they want to gain their clinical hours. This gives students the chance to get experience at a facility they may want to work in once they finish their training and provides opportunities to establish relationships with potential employers.
Students who think they might pursue a nursing degree in the future can often transfer credits earned through their online CNA program to a four-year university. CNA courses taken at vocational or community colleges are usually less expensive, so this can help cut the cost of earning a nursing degree down the road.
CNAs who know they want to work in a specific state but haven’t moved yet can get a head start preparing for their careers by taking online courses approved by the state in which they plan to live and work. CNAs who have taken online courses will be prepared to apply for nursing assistant jobs before they’ve even finished unpacking.
Those who already know they want to take their CNA courses online can find detailed information and program specifics on their educational institution’s website. Prospective students who still aren’t quite sure if online CNA courses are right for them can check out these general frequently asked questions about online nursing assistant classes first to get additional information.
The first step in ensuring course credibility is to check their state board of nursing or public health department to see if the program or course is state approved. Students taking classes at colleges, universities and vocational schools can also check to see if their nursing program is accredited.
Online classes can be less expensive, but they aren’t always. Taking classes online can help students save money, however, by doing away with transportation costs between school and home and by allowing students to continue working without having to cut their hours or modify their work schedules to attend class.
While online CNA programs can supply theoretical knowledge, students still need to gain hands-on experience in clinical settings. Often, online CNA students can get this experience at a local clinic or health facility. Students should find out in advance if their program only accepts clinical hours earned at certain facilities, as this can be limiting.
Not quite. Online CNA programs prepare students to sit for their state certification examination. If they pass, CNAs can work alongside registered nurses in clinical settings. Some states allow graduates to work for a short time while they wait to take the exam.
Most online CNA courses are asynchronous, meaning students can log on and complete coursework when it’s convenient for them, giving them more control over their schedules. Courses usually specify whether they require students to be online at specific times for lectures, group discussions or other modes of learning.
This association works to improve the role and performance of CNAs by providing support and resources, including career coaching and continuing education.
Students can find information on their state nursing board along with other licensure and certification information and resources.
This organization encourages community and professional growth of nursing assistance through peer support, advocacy and participation in projects.
Find official information about nursing and nursing assistant exams and education.
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