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The CNA and Their Evolving Role in Health Care

Nursing Assistant jobs were established in 1918 during WWI, when the American Red Cross launched a program called the Volunteer Nurses’ Aide Service.  This program trained thousands of young women with the war effort to provide assistance to nurses who were being overwhelmed with injured soldiers.

It wasn’t until the 1950s when the first nursing homes were created by the federal government, however at this time nursing assistants were not formally trained or even certified.  In the 1970s a few states begin offering volunteer training and certification.  In order to maintain high patient care standards, it wasn’t until 1987 when Ronald Regan was in office that Congress passed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act.  This law required states to train and certify Nursing Assistants which changed the field of assistant nursing dramatically.

Today, in order to become a certified nursing assistant individuals must go through a state-approved training program and exam before being certified. Each state has set their own requirements, however they must have a minimal of 75 hours of classes room training along with at least 15 hours of clinical/hands on training.

Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant isn’t a job for everyone. This type of work can be very fast paced and stressful. As a result of this, many nursing home facilities are having a hard time finding and training qualified CNA's.  If you combine this with the healthcare needs of our growing elderly population, you can see why there is a great demand for qualified caregivers and that there are many job opportunities.

All it takes is some accredited training from qualified instructors, a need to be of assistance to others that cannot do for themselves. If you want to be a successful nursing assistant then it helps to have great communication skills. As you are employed in the medical field, you need to be in constant communication with patients/residents, nurses and other healthcare staff.  You will have to interact with the patient regularly and effectively as the medical staffs depends on the observations made by the nursing assistant. A career as a Certified Nursing Assistant is a very rewarding and humbling experience for those with these kinds of attributes!

The role of the CNA has evolved over the years and as a result more career options have become available.  Home health aides, Patient Care Technicians, Medication Aides and Certified Nursing Assistant 2 training are more advanced roles for the Certified Nursing Assistant.

Tomorrow’s Certified Nursing Assistant need to be educated and prepared for the evolving role of care giving. These professionals  will be the strong foundation for tomorrow’s healthcare system.