How to Become a Geriatric Nursing Assistant in 5 Steps
Do you have a passion for helping elderly people who need personal care? The elderly population relies on people like you to help with daily needs. As a geriatric nursing assistant, you can play a vital role in helping to sustain the health of elderly patients. Schools offering Adult Health Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Geriatric Nursing Assistant?
A geriatric nursing assistant provides hands-on care for the elderly population, assisting with daily needs, such as bathing and feeding. Most geriatric nursing assistants work in nursing homes or long-term care facilities under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and other health care professionals. Some employers require geriatric nursing assistants to earn a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) designation.
Step 1: Find Out Required Education and Career Duties
Geriatric nursing assistants work with elderly patients who may have lost their ability to care for themselves. You could help patients with bathing, eating and dressing. You might also assist with keeping patients mobile, preparing and serving meals or helping out during medical procedures. You might need to monitor patients' vital signs, including checking temperatures and blood pressure.
The type of education you'll need depends on the state and type of facility where you plan to work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), if you want to work at a nursing facility, you'll need to complete an accredited CNA program and fulfill all state requirements to obtain certification (www.bls.gov). Some hospitals and health care facilities could also require you to be a CNA, so you should check with prospective employers to verify necessary academic and certification requirements.
Step 2: Participate in a High School Program
Many high schools offer health career clubs that you can join as a student. Membership typically involves volunteering at a local hospital or health care facility. Some high schools offer basic health care courses and training to earn CPR certification.
If you can't find a health career club, you could check with your guidance counselor to determine if your high school participates in a student vocational program. Organizations, such as the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), work with many high schools to offer health care and leadership training (www.hosa.org).
Step 3: Complete a Training Program
You could participate in an academic nursing assistant or geriatric aide training program through a college or vocational school. These are typically short-term certificate programs that require less than a year of study. Courses common to these programs include human anatomy, nutrition and physiology. Completing these courses can help you prepare for certification exams.
You could also receive on-the-job training at a hospital or long-term care facility. In these settings, you'd train under the supervision of RNs and geriatric nursing assistants. On-the-job training programs usually include classes that cover topics in communication skills, personal care and patients' rights.
Step 4: Get Certified
To become a CNA, you'll need to pass a competency exam and complete at least 75 hours of training from a state-approved program. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers a list of state-approved training programs (www.ncsbn.org). If your duties involve home care services, you might consider obtaining the Certification for Homemaker/Home Care Aides offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). To obtain this credential, you'll need to complete 75 hours of training, undergo a skills evaluation and pass a written exam (www.nahc.org).
Step 5: Find a Geriatric Nursing Assistant Job
In 2010, the BLS reported that job growth for nursing aides was expected to increase 19% from 2008-2018. This job growth was anticipated due to a significant increase in the elderly population during that time. The career services department where you received your training might help you find employment. Establishments you could work for include adult day care centers, long-term care facilities, private homes and hospitals.
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