Prospects of Advancement for CNAs

The relative speed of training for certified nursing assistants at CNA training schools enables them to start working relatively quickly. However, just like any other career field, the potential for growth doesn’t stop at just becoming a CNA.

So, what options will you want to keep in the back of your mind, if you’re considering long-term prospects? It depends on how much additional training you want to engage in for your new position. For example, instructors at CNA training schools have a relatively short curriculum to learn and address.

However, many CNAs may use the experience to build up resume skills such as dealing with a wide variety of patients en route to a potentially more lucrative field. For example, a CNA aspirant may gain several years of experience working with patients, then go back to school to become a registered nurse. In fact, the nursing field may make the most sense, as there are a number of rungs on the ladder as one gains more experience and education.

After all, registered nurses may only need an associates degree and some experience, while a bachelor’s degree in nursing can lead to BSN certification which opens up even more doors at a higher salary figure. What’s important in both of these cases is that becoming a certified nursing assistant at CNA training schools enables one to build up experience in patient-facing situations.

Other medical professions are also open, including becoming a nurse practitioner or a physicians assistant, although these may be considered further down the road due to their advanced education needs.  But the point is that there are a number of options outside of the long-term care facility for certified nursing assistant.

Other career paths remain within the facility, including becoming an instructor at CNA training schools as previously mentioned. But CNAs can also find positions as supervisors as they gain more experience. They may, also, choose to move towards more administrative roles, depending on their career goals. You can see an infographic for various career paths for CNAs here.

Becoming a CNA Instructor

Becoming a certified nursing assistant is rewarding, but if you want to advance in your chosen career field you might consider working towards becoming a CNA instructor. This position offers you a chance to teach other students how to become nursing assistants. There are training programs you will have to complete in order to succeed as an instructor.

In order for you to start the CNA instructor training program you must have a license as a registered nurse (RN) or Licesnced Practical Nurse (in some states). RNs have been trained regarding the role and duties of certified nurse aides. RNs are often supervisors of CNAs in hospitals and health care centers. The other necessary requirement for a training program is to have two years (at least) of work experience as an RN.

CNAs tend to work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities caring for elderly or disabled individuals. It is best to have some of your work experience in these fields in order to succeed in the instructor program. In fact, most instructors have at least one year experience caring for the elderly.

There is only one course an RN will need to take in order to learn how to become an instructor. The course focuses on caring for elderly, chronic care, and nursing facility positions in order to for the student to train CNAs. The course will teach learning principles, curriculum development, instructional methods, instructional aid information, lesson plan development, legal responsibilities, competency evaluation, teaching simulations, and the definition of Alzheimer’s disease.

Most courses are 10 sessions given over a period of five to ten weeks based on the instructor’s or training college’s preferences. The course must be passed with a 90 percent or better on all exams and instruction. The information discussed in the training programs is less about job duties and CNA information, and more about how to impart already learned information to new students.

At the conclusion of the training program students will need to pass a licensing examination that tests their newly learned skills. Often the exam includes two parts: a written exam and then simulations. The simulations test the student’s skills as an instructor, evaluating how effective the person is in describing the various information CNAs need to learn.

Licensing requires the exam, a licensing fee, and proof of identity in order for the student to become a CNA instructor. Different states may have slightly different licensing and program requirements.

From CNA to LPN

A large portion of CNAs are people that began their job as a stepping stone to becoming a nurse. Working as a CNA will give your knowledge of the medical field and can be a real eye-opener for people that want to become nurses. Many nursing students have been quoted as saying they wish they had worked as a CNA first. Aides perform many duties that years ago were under the job description for LPNs. Depending on where you work (types of facility and state) you may perform many traditionally LPN ‘jobs.’

After working as a CNA you will probably know if you want to continue working in the healthcare field. You will have had interaction with patients, provided clinical care, and be aware of the risks that come with nursing careers. You will be able to make an informed decision on a nursing education.

Most facilities will help their CNAs further their education if the aide promises to work for a certain period of time for said employer after graduating nursing school. Even if the aide pays for her own education, facilities are more likely to hire a nurse with previous CNA experience over a nurse applicant with no clinical experience outside of school.

One reason that many CNAs make the ‘jump’ to LPN is the increase in pay. CNAs on average in the United States make $20,000 to $27,000 yearly. Compared to the national average of $40,000 yearly for LPNs it is obvious that LPN is the next step for a career minded CNA.

CNAs that wish to make the jump to LPN can enroll in bridge programs. Many colleges or nursing schools around the nation offer bridge programs which have shorter training classes – many are 9 to 10 months in length and touch on the skills CNAs already know briefly. At the end of a training course the CNA will then take the state’s nursing examination.

There are some options for Internet classes, though you will need to check with your state’s board of nursing to find out if these classes are valid in your state. These classes work in conjunction with local colleges and facilities so that the hands on portion of training can be scheduled at the local facilities.

The coursework covered includes biology, chemistry, anatomy, psychology, and many more items not covered in CNA training. This is why CNAs need up to a year of additional courses before they have the ability to take the nursing exams, but at the end of it all, the rewards are worth it for many.