Cna To Doctor

Cna To Doctor
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After finishing your CNA program, you’ll have to take and pass your state’s chosen CNA examination. Many states utilize the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination, administered by Pearson VUE. This exam contains both a written portion and a skills demonstration portion. The written portion of the exam covers such topics as medical ethics, infection control, safety, and data collection. Your CNA program—as well as your premed classes—should prepare you to successfully pass this first part of the test.

Get Meaningful Clinical Experience as a CNA

Whether you are just starting or well into your premed journey, it’s important to take stock of your extracurricular activities: What do your pursuits say about you as a person and future physician? You’re choosing the life of a doctor, someone who works continuously with people and populations. You’ll want to demonstrate your attraction to this central aspect of medicine, not only to medical school admissions committees, but also to yourself! As you prepare for the future, remember that getting acquainted to clinical work before medical school is critical. Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is one great way to get clinical exposure while doing meaningful (and compensated) work.

You may have seen CNAs in nursing homes, assisting your loved ones with their basic daily activities, such as feeding and bathing. Or you may have seen them in action on hospital floors, collecting vital signs, assisting with medical procedures, and helping mobilize patients. CNA work is skilled, physical, and very hands-on. Working as a certified nursing assistant, you are sure to learn the basics of teamwork within the healthcare team, building rapport, and handling a patient’s body with care and respect. A CNA’s scope of practice, type of credentialing exam, and length of training vary by state and requirements may vary further by institution. You don’t need a specific degree to become CNA–just a certificate from a state board-accredited institution, a desire to help, and a willingness to learn!

While some states us the NNAAP for credentialing CNAs, others use different exams to evaluate a nurse aide’s competency. The total number of hours in training varies by state, as do exemptions and reciprocity rules. Make sure you carefully read the requirements! Here’s what you will need to do to become a certified nursing assistant by U.S. state:

Alabama: In Alabama, you are required to complete a state-approved CNA training program , 75 hours of clinical and skills training, and pass the NNAAP Exam, administered by Pearson VUE. After that, CNAs are registered in the Alabama Nurse Aide Registry and may begin working.

Alaska: Prior to becoming eligible for certification, new NAs in Alaska must complete a state-approved training program as well as 140 hours of clinical and skills training. They may then sit for the NNAAP Exam and apply for certification through the Nurse Aide Registry.

Arizona: In addition to 120 training hours, the state of Arizona requires completion of a state-approved CNA training program . Arizona administers its own written and manual skills exam. Providing proof of lawful US residency is a prerequisite for CNA certification in this state.

Arkansas: Passing a competency test and completing at least 90 hours of education in a state-approved CNA training program are required for becoming a CNA in Arkansas.

California: California Code of Regulations requires the completion of a state-approved CNA training program , plus a passing score in the NNAAP exam. California also conducts background checks prior to certification.

Colorado: CNAs in Colorado must first complete a state-approved CNA training program and obtain a passing score on the NNAAP exam.

Connecticut: To be certified in this state, you must complete an approved CNA program . Connecticut administers its own version of the Nurse Aide Examination through Prometric.

Delaware: The State of Delaware asks CNAs to sit for the Nurse Aide Examination, which is administered through Prometric. Applicants must first complete an approved CNA training program.

District of Columbia: According to District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, CNAs must first complete an approved training program that is at least 120 hours long, then pass the NNAAP Exam in order to become certified.

Florida: As long as you pass Florida’s nursing assistant competency exam, you are eligible to become a CNA. You can choose any of the following to satisfy the education prerequisites for the exam: complete an approved CNA program , obtain a high school diploma (if 18 years of age or older), or complete the special curriculum offered by the state.

Georgia: In Georgia, a nurse’s aide who wishes to become certified must complete an approved program and then pass the NNAAP exam before applying.

Hawaii: Nurse’s aides in Hawaii must first complete a state-accredited program that is at least 100 hours in length. Then, they may sit for the Hawaii Nurse Aide Competency Exam.

Idaho: state-approved CNA training programs in Idaho must be at least 120 hours in length. The NNAAP is not used in Idaho, but rather a two-part exam that includes manual and written portions. Candidates must pass the manual exam before advancing to the written section.

Illinois: Nurse’s aides must complete a basic nursing assistant training program that covers a curriculum approved by the state. Applicants who have completed this training or CNA-equivalent training in the military may sit for the Illinois Nurse Aide Competency Exam.

Indiana: Requirements for becoming a CNA in Indiana are somewhat unique. State approved programs are at least 105 hours long, but depending on the applicant, may not be required. The certification exam is offered through Ivy Tech Community College and examinees who pass the test are entered into the state’s nurse aide registry.

Iowa: Prior to taking the CNA competency exam, nurse’s aides in Iowa must complete 20 hours of on-the-job training within six months prior to the exam, or a 75-hour CNA training program . After passing the exam, CNAs must register in the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry.

Kansas: CNA candidates in Kansas must complete an approved training program that is 90 hours in length and pass the state’s certification exam.

Kentucky: In Kentucky, CNAs are called State Registered Nurse Aides, or SRNAs. To become one and register in the state’s Nurse Aide Registry , you’ll need to complete a 75-hour training program and pass the competency evaluation exam.

Maine: There are a number of special paths and equivalency options for fulfilling the CNA requirements in Maine. In most cases, completing an approved program of at least 180 hours is required before an applicant can take the two-part Maine CNA exam.

Maryland: There is more than one type of CNA in the Maryland, and each has a slightly different set of training requirements! Candidates first determine which type of certification suits their needs and interests, complete the respective training programs , and pass the NNAAP exam.

Massachusetts: The requirements for becoming a CNA in this state are to complete an approved training program of at least 75 hours, and successful completion of the state’s nurse aide competency evaluation.

Michigan: CNA training programs in Michigan are called Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program . Candidates must first complete this 75 hour program and then pass the CNA exam administered by Prometric.

Minnesota: Minnesota has no shortage of paths to becoming a CNA ! You may choose combinations of didactic classes and on-the-job training, variable program lengths and different curricula. Ultimately, passing the two-part final exam will determine your eligibility for certification.

Mississippi: To become a certified nurse aide in Mississippi, you must complete an approved training course and pass the NNAAP exam.

Missouri: State-approved CNA training programs in Missouri vary in length, but they are 175 hours at minimum and are required prior to sitting for the state CNA certification exam.

Montana: Montana requires at least 75 hours of training in a state-approved program , followed by successful completion of a two-part knowledge and skills exam administered by a third party contractor.

Nebraska: In Nebraska, CNA training involves a minimum of 75 hours in an approved program , completion of a short course on abuse/neglect, and a passing score on the state’s CNA evaluation exam.

Nevada: An approved 75-hour CNA training program is required for most candidates in the state of Nevada. NAs can become certified after passing the Nurse Aide Competency Exam.

New Hampshire: CNAs are called Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNAs) in New Hampshire. Like many other states, there are a number of exemptions for LNA programs. But in general, most applicants will need to complete a state-approved LNA training program to be eligible for the CNA competency evaluation program.

New Jersey: CNA training in New Jersey must be through a state-approved, 90-hour program . The certification test used in this state is the NNAAP.

New Mexico: The minimum number of hours for CNA training in New Mexico is 75 hours, but total hours vary depending on the institution. The final credentialing exam is a state-specific CNA exam offered through Prometric.

New York: Depending on the type of program, state-approved CNA training in New York can take anywhere from a minimum or 120 hours to 324 hours. Once training is complete, applicants must pass the New York State Competency Examination for the Nursing Home Nurse Aide.

North Carolina: A minimum 75-hour CNA training program or equivalency waiver is required before sitting for the credentialing exam. North Carolina uses the NNAAP administered by Pearson Vue.

North Dakota: Programs that meet Department of Health approval in North Dakota are at least 75-hours long. Like many other states, North Dakota uses the NNAAP exam for credentialing CNAs.

Ohio: State Tested Nurse Aides in Ohio are equivalent to CNAs in other states. Approved training programs are at least 75 hours long —the federal minimum. The Ohio STNA Exam is the next prerequisite for credentialing, and it is administered through a third party contractor.

Oklahoma: There are six different types of certified nurse aides in Oklahoma, each with their own training requirements and examinations! It all depends on the setting in which you want to work. All training programs meet the federal minimum of 75 hours and involve a final exam. Refer to the Oklahoma State Department of Health guidelines for more.

Oregon: Certified nurse aides receive certification and work at two levels in Oregon, CNA1 and CNA2. It is possible to train for one or both at the same time. The minimum approved program length in this state is 155 hours long, with additional hours required for CNA2 training. The CNA1 Competency Evaluation Exam is administered through a third party contractor.

Pennsylvania: CNA candidates must meet a number of personal health and background check requirements before completing a minimum 80-hour CNA training program . The credentialing test in Pennsylvania is the NNAAP.

Rhode Island: State-approved CNA training in Rhode Island is 100 hours or more. After completing the training, candidates must pass the NNAAP.

South Carolina: South Carolina uses the NNAAP exam for CNA credentialing. Prior to sitting for the exam, candidates must have completed a state-approved training program lasting at least 100 clock hours.

South Dakota: In order to become a CNA in this states, candidates must complete a state-approved training program that meets the 75-hour federal minimum. A state-specific Competency Evaluation Exam is administered through a third party, and those who pass are certified and eligible to work at CNAa.

Tennessee: Much as in other states, Tennessee requires CNA candidates to first complete an approved training program that is at least 75 hours in length, and then obtain a passing score on a Competency Evaluation Exam administered by a third party.

Texas: The type of training required of CNAs in Texas can vary based on where you intend to work. In general, the Texas Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program involves at least 100 hours of training, followed by the NNAAP exam.

Utah: Approved training programs for CNAs in Utah are a minimum of 100 hours. Upon completion, candidates must sit for and pass the state’s own CNA competency exam.

Vermont: CNAs are LNAs (Licensed Nursing Assistants) in Vermont, and the required training programs for certification are 80 hours long at minimum. Certification is complete once the candidate passes the NNAAP exam.

Washington: This state requires CNA training to be at least 85 hours in length. Once a candidate passes the NNAAP, they are certified and eligible to work within the CNA scope of practice.

West Virginia: Approved CNA programs in West Virginia must last at least 120 hours. The credentialing exam is specific to the state and is administered through a third party. Examinees are certified after passing.

Wisconsin: Nursing Aides who wish to become certified in Wisconsin are mandated to complete at least 120 hours of state-approved training . The final credentialing exam is the NNAAP.

Wyoming: CNA training in Wyoming is at least 120 hours long, with the opportunity to complete further training to become a CNA2 and expand one’s scope of practice. Certification is complete once a passing score is obtained on the CNA Certification Exam administered by Pearson Vue / Credentia.

How to Become a CNA as a Premed

Learn about CNA programs and CNA requirements so you can become a competitive medical school candidate

Cna To Doctor

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: What does a certified nursing assistant do?

Part 3: What are the requirements to become a CNA?

Part 4: How to balance being a CNA and a premed

Part 1: Introduction

If you hope to become a competitive medical school candidate by gaining meaningful clinical experiences, you might want to consider becoming a certified nursing assistant or CNA. Premeds who work as CNAs improve their chances of getting into medical school and learn valuable skills they’ll utilize after earning their white coats.

Medical school admissions committees look favorably on premeds who are CNAs because they acquire an impressive amount of direct patient experience in their roles. After all, CNAs are the medical professionals who interact most regularly with patients.

In addition, premeds who work as CNAs become deeply familiar with the ins and outs of the healthcare system. They interact with every type of medical professional—from doctors to nurses to administrative staff. This provides CNAs with unique perspectives to pull from once they become medical students.

Becoming a CNA as a premed does more than strengthen your medical school application. It also offers you the types of valuable skills and experiences that will help you be at the top of your class as a medical student. As a CNA, you’ll quickly learn how to work on a healthcare team and collaborate with others to provide high-quality patient care. You’ll come to appreciate the roles, struggles, and triumphs of nurses, which will allow you to become an empathetic doctor who’s beloved by their staff.

Furthermore, if you want to improve your bedside manner, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a healthcare role that offers you better opportunities than working as a CNA does. You’ll spend your days providing basic care to patients and mastering a list of clinical skills that will help you excel in your early medical school clinical experiences.

With the medical school application process becoming more and more competitive each year, you know you have to do something exceptional in order to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. Becoming a CNA and gaining noteworthy patient experience is an excellent choice to improve your admissions odds.

Continue reading to learn about CNA programs, understand the basic CNA requirements, and discover how to become a CNA.

Part 2: What does a certified nursing assistant do?

Before you determine if becoming a CNA is how you want to gain your clinical experience for medical school, you should evaluate if the role of a CNA is a good fit for you. While you might only work as a CNA for a few years while you complete your premed requirements, you’ll have a more valuable experience if you find the job enjoyable.

If the work of a CNA doesn’t appeal to you, you might look into becoming certified for another medical role—such as an EMT, medical assistant, or medical scribe—to gain the clinical experience you need.

CNAs always work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational or practical nurses (LVNs or LPNs). Together with the rest of their medical team, they look after the well-being of patients. However, CNAs are primarily responsible for ensuring that patients have a positive and comfortable experience while they receive medical care.

On any given day, CNAs complete a wide variety of tasks. They assist patients in performing necessary daily activities, such as feeding and bathing. They frequently respond to patients’ calls or bells, collect vital signs, and change wound dressings. Depending on their setting and the patients they serve, CNAs may be responsible for assisting nurses and doctors with medical procedures or helping patients complete assigned rehabilitation exercises.

In addition to these direct patient tasks, CNAs spend a portion of their time documenting patients’ health issues, cleaning patient rooms, and stocking medical supplies. However, the vast majority of their work is spent interacting directly with patients, which is why being a CNA is effective preparation for medical school.

To be a successful CNA, you’ll want to possess a specific set of skills and qualities.

  • Strong communication skills—to interact effectively with patients, nurses, and doctors.
  • Empathy—to understand the feelings and struggles of your patients.
  • Time management—to complete the many tasks you’re assigned each day.
  • Flexibility—to easily adjust your plans to meet the demands of your patients and supervisors.
  • Compassion—to respect and value your patients while at their most vulnerable.
  • Physical strength—to reposition immobile patients or assist patients in and out of bed.

Many students on their way to becoming nurses, physician assistants, or doctors become CNAs as a stepping stone to their dream careers. If the above job description interests you and you possess this list of qualities, you might be ready to join their ranks and become a CNA.

Part 3: What are the requirements to become a CNA?

One reason why becoming a CNA is an attractive choice for premeds is because it requires a relatively small amount of training and education. In fact, it’s one of the few credentialed medical professions that doesn’t require a college degree. If you have a high school diploma and can pass a criminal background check, you’re just a few short months away from becoming a CNA.

What knowledge and skills are taught in CNA programs?

CNA programs teach students the knowledge and skills they’ll need to be successful in their CNA roles. Usually equivalent to about six semester credits, CNA training courses include a classroom component as well as an experiential component.

In the classroom portion of CNA programs, students study a variety of relevant content areas, including:

  • Patient communication
  • Patient safety
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Patient rights
  • Patient care skills, including CPR and first aid

To apply their knowledge to real-life medical situations, CNA students complete on-site training or clinical work at hospitals, clinics, or private doctor’s offices. During their practicums, they work under the supervision of registered nurses and alongside practicing CNAs. Whichever state you reside in will determine how many hours of experiential training you’re required to complete in order to meet your CNA qualifications.

How long does it take to become a CNA?

CNA programs vary in length depending on their format—some are highly condensed while others are intentionally spread out to fit with students’ outside work or learning schedules. However, most CNA programs last between four and sixteen weeks, offering you plenty of flexibility to make room for your CNA training within your larger premed plan.

You can find CNA programs at a variety of institutions. Many community colleges offer semester-long CNA courses, either in-person, online, or in a hybrid format. You’ll also find CNA programs at trade or vocational schools—often following a condensed timeline. The Red Cross offers affordable CNA programs in a variety of locations around the country. And finally, certain hospitals or nursing homes provide their own classes to help them train and hire qualified CNAs.

When researching CNA programs, it’s important to make sure each program is approved by your state’s nursing board or department of health so you can qualify for CNA certification. Whether you complete an online or in-person CNA training program should depend on your schedule, learning style, and the availability of CNA courses in your area. Hospitals and clinics that hire CNAs will not hold an online program against you. Just keep in mind that even online CNA programs require an in-person experiential component.

How to qualify for CNA certification

CNA credentials are awarded by individual states, so it follows that individual CNA qualifications vary state-by-state. However, most states follow fairly similar certification guidelines.

First, you have to complete a state-approved CNA training program and meet the minimum hours of in-person clinical experience. As mentioned, you can usually find lists of approved programs on your state’s nursing board website or the department of health website.

After finishing your CNA program, you’ll have to take and pass your state’s chosen CNA examination. Many states utilize the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) Examination, administered by Pearson VUE. This exam contains both a written portion and a skills demonstration portion. The written portion of the exam covers such topics as medical ethics, infection control, safety, and data collection. Your CNA program—as well as your premed classes—should prepare you to successfully pass this first part of the test.

During the skills demonstration component of the NNAAP Exam, you’ll be asked to perform a few typical CNA job tasks in front of a trained nursing assistant evaluator. For instance, you might check vital signs, reposition a patient, or change the bandages on a wound.

Once you pass both portions of the NNAAP Exam, you will be added to your state’s licensed CNA registry. This final step completes your CNA certification process, making you officially ready to apply for jobs and start gaining the valuable CNA experience you’ve been seeking.

Part 4: How to balance being a CNA and a premed

Completing the necessary medical school requirements—including earning a high premed GPA, completing the right extracurricular activities, and studying for the MCAT—is demanding on its own. If you want to add being a CNA on top of everything else, you’ll definitely stay busy balancing it all. But the payoff, which is becoming a strong medical school candidate, will make it all worth it.

When is the best time to become a CNA?

One of the great things about CNA training is you can complete it straight out of high school. Many highly prepared and focused high school graduates do indeed finish a CNA program before starting their first semester of college. This is a smart approach because, by getting your CNA training out of the way before beginning your premed classes, you can work part-time as a CNA throughout undergrad. This allows you to acquire several years’ worth of clinical experience before starting your medical school applications. Plus, the money you earn can go toward covering tuition or personal expenses.

Starting right after high school might be the fastest way to become a CNA, but if you’ve already passed that stage, you still have plenty of opportunities available. Completing your CNA training during your freshman or sophomore is also a good option because you won’t be juggling advanced upper-level science classes yet. Furthermore, this still gives you plenty of time to gain meaningful patient experiences you can reference in your medical school personal statement and secondary essays.

Since many CNA programs can be completed in one or two months, you might find it most convenient to finish your training during a summer break. However, if your summers are already packed with other extracurricular activities, it’s certainly possible to take a CNA course during an academic semester alongside your other premed classes.

Many CNA programs offer classes on evenings and weekends, which would comfortably fit around your undergrad courses. You just want to consider your overall workload and be certain you can maintain a strong premed GPA if you choose this route.

Where are the best places to work as a CNA premed?

If you’re looking for a flexible CNA schedule that doesn’t interfere with your premed classes, you should aim to work at hospitals, nursing care facilities, or assisted living centers. Because patients in these settings need care 24/7, you’ll be able to request evening and weekend CNA shifts.

On the other hand, CNAs also work in private practices, urgent care clinics, and community clinics. Since these settings hold regular business hours, you might run into a few scheduling conflicts with your premed classes. However, if you’re able to schedule your courses into one or two days of the week, you’ll have plenty of work availability to get a CNA job in a private practice or clinic.

The good news is there’s a consistently high demand for CNAs. As a motivated and high-achieving premed student, you’ll be an impressive job candidate. Even so, you can cut down on your time spent searching for and applying to CNA jobs if you start by exploring the opportunities within your network and existing contacts first.

How to make the most of your CNA experience

Once you’ve been hired as a CNA, you’ll start gaining the significant patient experience you wanted. But even at this stage, there are strategic approaches you can follow to maximize the value of your CNA experience.

  • Build relationships with nurses and doctors. If they like you and know your medical school plans, they’ll be more eager to let you assist with advanced medical procedures.
  • Find a physician mentor. Ask them questions about their education, training, and work experience to better discern the path you want to take. Plus, they can write an impactful medical school letter of recommendation for you.
  • Pay close attention to tasks and skills beyond your scope. Even if you’re not qualified to complete certain medical procedures or tests, observe them being done by other medical professionals. This will help you master them more quickly as a medical student.
  • Gain experience relevant to your intended field of medicine. For example, if you’re interested in oncology, try to work in the oncology department at your hospital—or at the very least interact with oncology nurses and staff to learn more about their work.

If you approach your CNA experience intentionally, you’ll collect a meaningful range of in-depth medical experiences that will both increase your passion for medicine and impress medical school admissions committees.

Final thoughts

Becoming a CNA is an effective way to make yourself a strong medical school candidate. You’ll gain an impressive amount of patient experience and in-depth familiarity with the healthcare system. In addition, you’ll gain valuable skills and qualities that will help you excel as a medical student. If you follow the above step-by-step guidelines for how to become a CNA, you’ll be one step closer to earning your white coat and making your medical school dreams come true.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.

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