How to Become a Nurse's Aide in 5 Steps

Becoming a nurse's aide involves completing a training program and passing a certification exam. Learn more about the steps to entering this career, and explore the job duties, career outlook and advancement potential for nurse's aides. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Nurse's Aide?

As a nurse's aide or nursing assistant, you'll provide hands-on patient care, observe patient health conditions and help with various tasks, such as changing bed sheets and emptying bed pans. You may help patients eat, drink, dress and bathe, as well as monitor their vital signs. Depending on where you work, you may be required to collect patient samples, such as urine or saliva to use in laboratory tests.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

In most cases, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required for aide positions. If you're planning a career in this field, you should focus on courses in science, health and nutrition. Some high schools offer programs for nurse's aides or have work programs offering hospital experience for part of the day.

Step 2: Attend a Training Program

You may need to attend a formal training program for nurse's aides, which is a federal certification requirement for those planning on working in nursing care facilities. Vocational schools and community colleges offer nurse's aide training programs where you can study medical fundamentals and learn how to help patients with personal care tasks. Some employers offer training programs for new employees, while others may offer on-the-job training by experienced staff.

Step 3: Become Certified

Regulations for nurse's aides vary by state, but the federal government requires all nurse's aides who work in nursing care facilities to be certified. The Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) credential typically requires successful completion of a state-approved training program and passage of a skills assessment examination.

Step 4: Find a Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants would increase by 19% between 2008 and 2018, which is faster than average growth for all other occupations (www.bls.gov). This increase would be due in part to an overall increase in the number of elderly in the general population. As a trained, certified nurse's aide, you can find work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, community care facilities or other healthcare institutions or agencies.

Step 5: Advance Your Career

Although advancement in the CNA field can be rare, there are a few advanced certified nurse's aide education programs that provide advanced training in areas such as medical procedures, phlebotomy, medical terminology and electrocardiography. Other CNAs advance within the medical field by seeking additional training in areas such as nursing or medical assistance.

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