By Brenne Meirowitz
If you are considering a career in nursing, you may be eligible to receive free CNA training (Certified Nursing Assistant) through your employer or potential employer. Currently, the U.S. Federal Government offers health industry employers reimbursement for the expense of training for certain occupations through Medicare.
One of these includes training for Certified Nursing Assistants, who by law must meet the Federal requirement that all home health aides pass a competency test. Usually, a home health aide will receive free training before taking the competency test. Additionally, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers voluntary certification, particularly in states that require aides to be licensed.
Free training to prepare individuals for the CNA certification test are also offered by some high schools. While most home health aides and Nurse Assistants are generally not required to hold a high school diploma, most do.
The American Red Cross both trains and tests Certified Nursing Assistants. While it is relatively inexpensive compared to other paid programs, the Red Cross CNA class isn’t free. Another alternative is free CNA classes online, however many of these offer courses covering particular topics and skills, and may not cover everything necessary to pass the exam.
Some states, such as Florida, require that CNA’s complete a minimum of 12 hours of in-service training per year. However, certain exemptions may apply if the applicant can document that he or she was on active duty in the Armed Forces for a period of 6 months or more during the calendar year. Additionally, he or she must have been in good standing with the Board of Nursing and Certified Nursing Assistant Council at the time active duty began. Alternatively, if they are married to a member of the Armed Forces whose duty required the member leave the state of Florida prior to completing the minimum 12 hours of in-service training, he or she must submit proof of their spouse’s military status as well as appropriate documentation proving that the family was forced to leave the state due to active military service.
Basic topics addressed in CNA training classes include anatomy, body mechanics, physiology, infection control, nutrition, and communication skills. Students are also instructed in patient personal care and hygiene, such as bathing patients and teaching patients to bathe themselves, feeding patients and teaching patients to feed themselves, and grooming patients and instructing patients on how to groom themselves. Additional training is obtained while on the job, usually under the supervision of experienced aides, registered nurses (RN), or licensed practical nurses (LPN).
By Federal law, aides who work in nursing care facilities are required complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training as well as pass a competency evaluation. CNA certification is awarded to the aide upon completion of the Medicare funded free CNA training course. Once certification is obtained, the CNA is then listed in the State registry of nurse aides.
The projected job growth rate for nursing assistants and nurses aides, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projection, is expected to grow a combined 28 percent, far outpacing the expected 14 percent growth of LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurse) between the years 2006 and 2016.
While the job growth rate for CNAs is tremendous, sometimes opportunities for advancement maybe somewhat limited in comparison to LPNs. It is advised therefore, that after gaining valuable experience in the nursing field that CNAs continue their education to obtain LPN, medical assistant, or RN (registered nurse) certification. For those who’s work might interfere with attending a campus program, online LPN nursing classes are a good alternative.
After completing the free CNA training courses, taking and passing the state exam, and receiving their certification, most CNAs work under the supervision of LPNs – obtaining invaluable on the job training experience. With certification in hand, the extraordinary benefits of lifelong job security and good pay, plus the personal and job satisfaction that come with careers in health care, are the well-earned rewards!