Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant can be an important first step in a very long healthcare career. As an entry level position, the job of a nurse aide is suitable and the employment options are widespread, but remaining at the same position for your entire career is denying yourself the many possibilities that are available to healthcare professionals. Many CNAs go on to attain higher levels of education and hold advanced positions on healthcare teams. There are many preferable occupations available for qualified and hard-working nurse aides looking to go further in their professional field.
Almost every type of promotion will require more training or education. There are some positions that require less than others, however. One of the next available levels of training for nurse aides is the Advanced Nursing Assistant program. The course consists of 12 hours of instruction, along with six months of assignments and guided implementation of training skills. The program is designed to give leadership and clinical teaching skills to the most dedicated and experienced CNAs. This training will be most useful to CNAs with many years of experience who want to start making a greater impact on their place of employment. Advanced CNAs can teach and coach new employees, making their presence on a nursing home staff more valuable.
Another opportunity that requires some limited, additional training is for the position of Certified Medication Assistant. The title is available in about 20 states, and the distinction allows for nurse aides to handle and distribute patient medications. In other states, the title is Certified Medical Assistant, and the tasks expected are wider-ranging than administering medication. These training programs qualify the nurse aide to work in a number of new medical settings, as the wider range of knowledge makes you more valuable. Check with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to find out if your state offers CMA training.
The most advanced nursing positions available require college degrees or nursing diplomas to obtain. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses have higher levels of education and operate with more independence than nurse aides. The salaries are higher, the employment opportunities aremore competitive, and there are many more professional fields available with a college education. In order to become an RN or LPN, candidates can complete a two-year associate degree, a four-year bachelor degree, or a specialized nursing certificate from state-approved programs. The initial investment is greater than other options, but as a long-term career goal, becoming a nationally-licensed nurse is one of the best ways to make the most out of a healthcare career.