A CNA, or certified nursing assistant, provides long-term health-care for patients. As unlicensed assistive personnel, CNAs work under the supervision of nursing or medical staff.
Duties include taking assisting with medical procedures; feeding, dressing, and bathing patients; taking their vital signs; helping them get around; and monitoring their overall health. This is a very hands-on, patient-focused job – according to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, nursing assistants provide as much as 80-90% of the direct care received by patients and residents in long-term care facilities.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in CNA?
CNAs work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing care facilities, as well as provide at-home, private care. Requirements to practice as a nursing assistant vary by state. In some states, aides need certification (hence the “certified” in certified nursing assistant) or a nursing assistant license, while in others, neither is required. We recommend checking with your state’s nurse licensing board to find out what your requirements are.
For those who work in nursing care facilities, there is a national standard, as CNAs are required by federal law to complete 75 hours of state-approved training and pass an exam. A CNA certification online course will help aspiring nurse’s aides to take the exam, or meet other credentials required to practice. It’s worth noting that online CNA certification programs are different from programs for medical assistants, and while people often conflate the two positions, the titles CNA and medical assistant are not interchangeable. Both interact with patients, taking vitals and updating medical records, though while CNAs provide bedside care, while medical assistants don’t.
There isn’t a great range in salaries for CNAs like you’d find in other professions. According to the most-recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a CNA is $25,140. Keep in mind, though, that pay may vary by industry and location. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries for CNAs are the federal executive branch (with a annual mean wage of $35,730), insurance carriers ($33,120), and institutions of higher education ($31,410), while the top-paying states are Alaska ($34,210), Nevada ($31,370), and New York ($31,230). Job employment may also vary by industry and location. According to the BLS, the industries with the highest levels of employment are nursing care facilities, medical and surgical hospitals, and community care facilities for the elderly. The top states are California, New York, and Texas – not surprisingly, the states with the greatest populations in the U.S.
It’s important to remember that, while informative, these figures don’t represent the realities for every CNA. Wages and employment will also be greatly influenced by your level of experience and education, as well as the economic climate and demand.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in CNA?
Online CNA programs train students to provide basic care to patients help prepare them to take the exam their CNA certification. Online CNA courses generally focus on nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, and body mechanics, as well as personal care skills, such as helping patients to bathe and eat. Online CNA classes may also teach students about residents’ rights and safety. Coursework and lectures will be available through online software, though programs often also require clinical hours so students can gain on-site experience and training at a health-care facility.
Once a student completes an online CNA certification program and passes the certification exam, he or she will be prepared for entry-level work in the health care field. But courses don’t stop there – to stay up-to-date on the most-current practices and equipment in patient care, states also often require that CNAs obtain continuing education hours to renew their certificates. CNAs may find that after working in the field for a few years and gained basic nursing and patient interaction skills, they want to upgrade their job title and pay grade, too, through advanced education. In those cases, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN) is often the next logical step, and programs for both are also available via distance learning.