Does your student dream of making a difference in the medical field by improving the daily lives of others? If so, they may find the certified nursing assistant (CNA) career path fulfilling and rewarding. CNAs are exceptional caregivers who serve others on a daily basis. K12's career readiness education program, Stride Career Prep, gives students the opportunity to integrate CNA high school courses into their curriculum. Project-based learning gives students real-world experience that prepares them for what they will face as a CNA in the workplace.
Job Profile: Certified Nursing Assistant
Nursing assistants play a major role in healthcare facilities: they support registered nurses in daily tasks. From a high level, CNAs provide basic care and can dispense medication to patients. CNAs often develop relationships with their patients, especially in nursing homes and residential care facilities. Frequently, these relationships go as far as residents getting excited when they have their favorite CNA for a shift. When patients stay in facilities for extended periods, CNAs get to know them and their needs quite well. A typical day in the life of a certified nursing assistant entails:
- Helping patients eat meals
- Cleaning and bathing patients
- Assisting patients in using the toilet and dressing
- Measuring vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure
- Repositioning patients and transferring them between beds and wheelchairs
- Listening to and recording health concerns of patients, then reporting that information to nurses
Each state has separate requirements for nursing assistants. There is often a state-approved education program that includes instruction on both nursing and clinical work. In addition to states, most employers require on-the-job training to learn about specific policies and procedures.
Completing the education program is only the beginning for nursing assistants. A state-issued license or certification is often needed for them to practice. After passing a competency exam, they can use state-specific titles, such as CNA. Once nursing assistants pass the exam, they get placed on a state registry. Being registered is a requirement to be able to work at many facilities, including nursing homes. The CNA training programs offered by Stride Career Prep helps prepare students for the exams critical to the success of nursing assistants. A few of these certifications include:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Exam
- American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) Nursing Assistant Certification (NAC) Exam
- Certified Medication Assistant (CMA)
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Basic life support (BLS)
Learning Nursing with Stride Career Prep
The healthcare industry is home to some of the fastest-growing careers. If your student shows interest in the medical field, exploring CNA education programs will ensure stability in the future of our economy. By 2028, the expected growth rate for nursing-related jobs is 9 percent. The median salary in 2018 was $28,530, and by 2028 there will be a projected 137,800 new jobs in the nursing assistant field.
Going through these certification courses after high school isn't the only way to become a CNA. The Nursing Assistant pathway provides students the opportunity to gain this experience while pursuing their high school diploma—giving them an advantage over many others their age.
Nursing Assisting Pathway
The Nursing Assistant pathway prepares students for getting relevant jobs right out of high school. Students have opportunities for hands-on experience through internships, apprenticeships, and job shadows. Project-based curriculum, like Healthcare Explorations, allows students to do the work instead of merely reading how to do it. The projects in this course emulate tasks that CNAs are often asked to complete, like taking vital signs, setting up medical equipment, or administering medication. This lets the students know exactly what to expect when they get into a work environment.
As soon as students decide on a CNA career path, they begin their career-focused education. In addition to traditional high school courses, students in the Nursing Assistant Pathway will take:
- Healthcare Explorations
- Health Science II
- Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2
- Nursing Assistant 1, 2, & 3
The Nursing Assistant pathway prepares students for two certification exams. The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Exam and the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) Nursing Assistant Certification (NAC) Exam are both necessary to put students ahead of the competition. Students can start earning money right after high school with these certifications.
Professional Skills for Nursing Assistants
CNAs perform a wide variety of tasks throughout a regular day and need a diverse skill set to complete them. Both the hard and soft skills used in the Nursing Assistant pathway are essential for students to incorporate in their daily life. In addition to being comforting, courageous, hopeful, accepting, and gentle, nursing assistants must master:
- Observation skills
- Time management
- Empathy, patience, and compassion
- The ability to follow rules and protocol
- Written and verbal communication
Technical Skills for Nursing Assistants
Healthcare-specific technical skills, or measurable abilities, are also necessary to ensure success. Once students learn the technical skills through both training and hands-on working experience, they can perform their work. Courses through the Nursing Assistant pathway will teach students the skills and how to apply their new skillsets. The technical skills for a successful start to a CNA career path are:
- Knowledge of medical terminology
- CPR and first-aid certification
- Understanding of HIPAA and patient privacy
- Proficiency of basic patient care skills
- Utilization of proper documentation standards
The Stride Career Prep nursing assistant program teaches students these skills through career readiness education. Career-focused courses give students a purpose when diving into their future area of study. As students go through their learning journey, they begin to refine their interests. They can then choose to commit to a CNA high school program with more specialized classes focusing on technical skills. This familiarizes students with necessary foundational skills and provides them hands-on experience with industry professionals.
Our program equips students with access to tools like Nepris and Tallo. These tools are valuable resources for students when used correctly. Tallo connects students with employers and colleges nationwide, while Nepris enables students to hear directly from industry professionals about their journey, experience, and day-to-day work life. Tallo also has a built-in tool that makes it easier for students to find potential scholarships.
Exploring Nursing Assisting with Stride Career Prep
Showing support of your student's passions can open opportunities and provide them with a sense of purpose. If your student lives to heal and loves to encourage those around them, a chance to explore the CNA career path may be what they need to discover their full potential. If health sciences, information documentation, or caretaking interests your student, this Pathway may help them find success.
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