Nursing Assistant Programs

Nursing is all about patient care. Whereas physicians often spend a short amount of time with their patients through the diagnosis and treatment process, nurses are virtually always at a patientís side. They are largely responsible for their rehabilitation they receive and the instructions they get about their after care. Nursing assistants are the heart and soul of patient care. Working under the direction of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nursing assistants provide a lionís share of patient care. They are with patients on the way to and from procedures. They help them during their rehabilitation period, often offering the most personal services and helping them at their most fragile. Nursing assistants also communicate with patients, teaching them how to continue their care and rehabilitation once they return home. It is a job that requires patience, empathy, and intelligence. It also requires education and training, both of which can be gained at nursing assistant programs.

Nursing assistant programs vary in length and cost. Affordability and flexibility should be the first two aspects of a program considered when comparing schools. Some programs can be completed in just a semester, encompassing five full-time classes. These are usually certificate programs that fulfill curricular requirements set by the state. Candidates must have a high school degree or be able to prove equivalent competence through a GED. They may be asked to take a standardized exam for acceptance into the program. Classes will cover aspects of patient care from preoperative and postoperative nursing to rehabilitation. They may also cover different kinds of patient care, like pediatric nursing and geriatric nursing. Much of the future demand for nursing assistants will be working with the elderly. Programs will also provide coursework in safety procedures and reporting of problems or abuse. Communication skills are taught and practiced.

Other nursing assistant programs provide a broader knowledge of medical care, allowing their graduates more flexibility when searching for employment. There are degree programs that last two or four years; the most common is a two-year associateís degree. This degree will offer a broader array of professional skills, from written expression to financial classes. The extra time will also afford nursing assistant candidates to get clinical training, working in real-life situations under the guidance of teachers and professional nurses. Classes cover basic biological concepts, from nutrition to disorders of internal body systems. Nursing assistant candidates will receive training in life-support measures like CPR. They will also study how hospitals and health care centers work through their hierarchical functions.

The demand for nursing assistants is high and should remain so for some time. There are not enough trained applicants for many positions, especially in certain underserved regions. Many states encourage qualified applicants to enter nursing assistant programs by offering financial aid and other incentives. States also participate in the design of nursing assistant curriculums. These factors, along with job placement services provided by programs themselves, make employment upon completion of a certificate or degree extremely likely. Not all nursing positions are alike, however, so it is wise to consider oneís future place of employment.

Nursing assistants work in hospitals and clinics assisting doctors and nurses before and after major procedures. They often spend time with patients, interviewing them for their medical records and to find out their insurance information. There are many opportunities in residential care. Nursing assistants work in rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, helping patients with their daily needs. Nursing assistants with special qualifications work with newborn babies, handling, cleaning, and feeding them. They also teach new parents the appropriate methods for infant care.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014