A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a state certified professional that provides direct, hands-on care to patients in various settings within healthcare. CNAs are tasked with assisting in the direct daily care of patients under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN), or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Nursing Assistants provide care associated with every aspect of a patient’s day to day living needs and is referred to as “activities of daily living”, or “ADLs”. In addition to ADLs, a CNA is also responsible for monitoring and reporting health changes to other staff members, and many other healthcare related tasks. Overall, many CNA job duties include:
CNAs work with a variety of patients. Some require basic assistance safely taking care of themselves and moving around their environment, while others may be at the end stage of life and need an increased level of care. No matter what stage of care their patients are experiencing, it is important that CNAs know the needs of each individual such as dietary restrictions, behavior patterns, daily routines, allergies, medications, and overall, what each person requires in order to remain comfortable. Great Certified Nursing Assistants have an instinctive desire to make those under their care feel safe and comforted and are able to communicate needs to other staff effectively. Since this role is extremely involved in the daily routines of their patients, they are often the first to notice small changes that could help identify health issues before they become problematic, making them a critical part of the healthcare team.
Depending on specific job duties and the region in which a CNA works, the specific job title can change slightly, however the basic expectations of the role is consistent from one job to the next. CNAs are often given titles such as Nursing Assistant, Certified Nurse Aide, Patient Care Assistant (PCA), State Certified Nursing Assistant (STNA), or Geriatric Nursing Assistant (GNA). Additionally, CNAs are able to apply for certification in more than one state, or use state reciprocity in order to become a Travel CNA, also commonly referred to as an Interim CNA. Travel CNA jobs are typically set for a period of 4 to 13 weeks, and offer an opportunity to develop new skills quickly, learn multiple systems, and adapt to changing work environments. These skills are not only valuable within the CNA role, but are also important for career advancement.
In order to become a CNA, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED, and must successfully complete a state approved Certified Nursing Assistant Training Program. There are several institutions that offer CNA training, so it is important to make sure the chosen program follows state requirements that will be needed for certification. Once training is completed, candidates will need to schedule their certification examination with the state in which they intend to practice. It is important for anyone considering a local or travel Certified Nursing Assistant role, to evaluate the challenges of the position. The nature of this work can be rewarding yet demanding. Working as a Travel CNA adds its own set of challenges. Traveling away from family and their home, Travel CNAs are often in unfamiliar areas. However, traveling to different healthcare organizations provides a wealth of experience that will further benefit Certified Nursing Assistants as they move forward in their careers. Whether the position is a permanent role or a travel position, the nature of the work opens opportunity to build strong and meaningful relationships with patients, making this role incredibly fulfilling.
CNA Training Help indicates that CNAs are required by federal law to complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education per year to maintain their certification. In addition to annual CEU’s, basic life support certification, tuberculosis screening, and a physical exam are also required and will need to be maintained annually. Certifications can be obtained in hospice and palliative care, wound care, medication aide, and memory care. If a Certified Nursing Assistant wants to further their credentials, a natural progression is to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or a Registered Nurse (RN).
The job outlook for CNAs is great! The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the demand for CNAs will increase by at least 9% by 2028 which is much faster than other occupational job growth. Because of an overall aging population, and older adults that are staying active longer, the need for senior living care providers is also growing. This means that Travel CNAs, or Interim CNAs, will particularly be needed in the future to not only help with the growing skilled nursing and assisted living populations, but to also aid in increasing healthcare staffing shortages. As senior living organizations consistently aim to improve the lives of their residents, travel nursing assistants will be called upon to maintain quality care.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Travel CNAs are in higher demand than ever before. Many states have made exceptions for CNAs and other healthcare workers, granting reciprocity and allowing them to travel and practice in greater capacities in order to maintain adequate staff in buildings that are experiencing crisis.
CNA salaries vary depending on experience and geographical location. The salary of a Travel CNA is typically higher than a traditional CNA position for several factors including having the opportunity to move around to higher paying locations and may receive incentives and stipends for travel. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that generally CNAs can expect an annual salary range between $22,000 and $40,000.
NursingAssistants.net is a great resource for CNAs to find information relevant to their line of work. The site offers educational articles, advice, and up to date information about the current market. Information articles on this site are aimed to help CNAs succeed in challenging situations, and find the best within themselves and their job.
National Network of Career Nursing Assistants is a non-profit organization that promotes education, research, and advocacy for CNAs. This support is specifically geared towards CNAs working in the long term care setting and nursing homes. Offering ways to stay in touch, and remain supported in the CNA role, this organization is a great way to feel connected while traveling.
When considering an Interim or Travel CNA career, healthcare recruiting firms can be a valuable resource. LeaderStat is a nationally recognized senior living recruiting firm, and our experienced Interim Recruiters help to match the talents of our candidates with great healthcare organizations across the country. LeaderStat works as an advocate for each CNA candidate, and can help to quickly facilitate new work assignments.
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