What to Expect from Your CNA Classes

CNA classes train students to work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in hospitals, extended care nursing facilities, doctor offices, outpatient clinics and private homes.

CNA classes should be a part of a state-approved nursing assistant program overseen by local healthcare facilities, health departments, colleges, universities or online training programs. Before enrolling make sure the class adequately prepares you to take care of patients in hospitals or doctor offices and residents in long-term care facilities. The class should also prepare you to take and pass certification tests.

What to Expect

These classes are for working adults, parents, commuters, and for anyone who wants to work in the medical field. Instructors train students to provide care to those that are injured, incapacitated, or otherwise in need of assistance in performing the activities of daily living.

Before you begin your CNA class, you may have to submit transcripts from your high school or GED program, receive all required immunizations, undergo a physical examination, and submit to a criminal background check. Check with your CNA class administrator to learn if the program has any other prerequisites you must complete before officially enrolling.

CNA programs are usually brief, typically lasting 75 to 150 hours in the classroom. There are two main sections to the CNA class: coursework and clinical studies.

Coursework and Clinical Studies

Coursework includes classroom and laboratory studies, which gives you the basic knowledge of the essential core skills and traits you will rely on as a successful nursing assistant.

In your coursework you will:

  • Review laws regarding patient rights
  • Learn how to observe patients
  • Gain an understanding of CNA protocols
  • Pick up important reporting, safety and communication skills.

Clinical studies are usually the second phase of CNA education, and typically take place at local hospitals or extended care facilities. Clinical studies help you transition to a clinical setting where you will apply what you learned in the classroom to a practical setting.

Your clinical studies will focus on:

  • Learning to take vital signs
  • Providing occupational therapy
  • Engaging in patient communication
  • Helping you understand the concepts and develop the skills necessary for practice as a CNA

Certified instructors teach both classroom and clinical studies. Instructors and administrators customize CNA classes to meet the standards and licensing requirements set by the individual states in which they are taught. In other words, you can expect to practice in the same state as the CNA class that you completed.

What You Can Expect to Learn in a CNA Class

You can expect to learn information and skills in your CNA class that you can use in other careers within the field of nursing or in other areas of the healthcare industry. The core curriculum of a CNA class gives you the best chance of succeeding in a booming career field.

Your instructors will teach you about basic anatomy and physiology. You will learn about different systems in the body, including important and useful information about the nervous system, digestive tract, cardiovascular system, and circulation. You can build on this information throughout your career as a certified nursing assistant, use it to further your education and career goals, or rely on it to take better care of yourself and your family.

Your CNA classes will give you an encyclopedic knowledge on caring for patients with diabetes, breathing problems, cognitive impairment and memory issues, arthritis and more. You will learn the basics of these medical conditions and taught how to manage them. You will discover the difference between Type I and Type II diabetes, for example, and how to treat high or low blood sugar levels. You will become proficient in recognizing respiratory problems and responding by adjusting oxygen flow rates. The class will teach you how to care for a patient with dementia and how to work with family members.

The CNA class will help you understand the legal issues affecting nursing assistants, such as keeping patient information private, carelessness, and failure to provide expected care. You will also learn how to handle situations that are beyond the scope of a CNA’s role, such as knowing when to notify a nurse when a patient’s condition suddenly changes for the worse.

CNA Classes Teach Essential Nursing Skills

CNA classes teach you the skills you will need to take care of others. You will learn proper procedures and correct protocol for caring for patients and residents.

Once you complete a CNA class, you will know how to:

  • Bathe an incapacitated or otherwise disabled individual
  • Provide proper oral hygiene for those with natural teeth, partial plates and dentures
  • Shave facial hair safely, without nicks or cuts
  • Make a hospital bed, which must be free from debris and wrinkles to protect the body of the patient or resident

You will know how to take vital signs and record them in a patient’s chart. Your instructor will also help you understand what constitutes an unhealthy vital sign, such as a very high blood pressure or low pulse, and what to do if you encounter a patient or resident with an abnormal vital sign.

The class will teach you about basic nutrition principles, including information about the various diets and meals you will someday deliver to patients and residents. You will learn the difference between a clear liquid diet and a soft diet, for example.

Your CNA class will teach you how to promote exercise and activity in the patients and residents in your care. You will learn basic therapy techniques, such as range of motion exercises that keep bodies strong and flexible.

CNA classes will also teach you how to stay safe in the workplace. You will learn proper lifting techniques that reduce your risk for back strain, for example, and the basics of hand hygiene to prevent the spread of diseases.

After you complete the CNA class, you will know how to perform a number of nursing duties, including serving meals, assisting patients or residents with eating, helping patients or residents bathe and dress, answering call lights, and relaying messages to the doctor or nurse. The class also teaches you how to monitor vital signs, including temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.

The nursing assistant program will prepare you to take the certification test. Once you have completed the CNA class, you will have a pre-determined amount of time to take the certification test. Certification demonstrates your skills and proficiency as a nursing assistant. Many institutions require certification before employing nursing assistants.

You can expect your CNA class to provide all the information and guidance you will need to take care of hospital patients and nursing home residents. Your CNA classes are the first step towards a fulfilling and rewarding career as a certified nursing assistant.

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Written by Lynn H
Lynn H. has been a leading writer in the medical field for more than 18 years. After 20 years providing exceptional patient care, she now specializes in creating informative and engaging medical content for readers of all levels, from patients to researchers and everyone in between.

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