Nursing Assistant Programs

What Is It Like to Work as a Nursing Assistant?

Most nursing assistants (NAs) are employed by nursing facilities (also called nursing homes) that offer rehabilitation services, assisted living, and long-term care. The work involves basic patient care such as feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, transporting, and other duties such as vital signs and some paperwork – all under the supervision of nurses or doctors. NAs can also work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, correctional facilities, or in home care.

You must be in good health and undergo a criminal background check prior to employment. Having a desire to help people, being dependable, and being able to work as part of a team are essential qualities for NAs.

For a detailed overview of a career as a nursing assistant, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Nursing Assistant Education

NA training programs are typically four to 18 weeks in duration, after which you are given a certificate of completion or a diploma. Shorter programs are ideal for people with healthcare experience or for those who want to qualify for the state certification exam in a short amount of time. Longer programs are good for those who need more hands-on care experience. Classes teach patient care skills and how to measure vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure. Expanded programs may include courses in body mechanics, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, and communication skills.

You can take NA courses if you are already working or in school. Training programs can be found in high schools, vocational-technical schools, and community or junior colleges. Some American Red Cross chapters and nursing care facilities also offer courses. Many programs offer evening and weekend classes. Some have an online component.

In many cases, you do not need a high school diploma to enter an NA training program. To become certified or find a job, however, you may need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Certified Nursing Assistant Programs

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) undergo about 75 hours of additional training and pass a state competency exam. Most nursing facilities require you to be certified. Contact your state’s board of nursing to find out about certification requirements and examinations.

If you want to take care of people but do not want to undergo classroom training or testing, consider becoming a home care or personal aide.  These positions do not usually require a high school diploma, and you are trained on the job in tasks such as cooking, light housekeeping, personal care, and emergency and safety precautions.

To move on to other healthcare fields, you will need additional training. The most common careers for former nursing assistants are medical assistants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses. For any of these positions you need a high school diploma and additional education. To be a nurse you also need to pass a state licensing exam. For more information about requirements for these careers, check out the American Association of Medical Assistants, the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses or the American Nurses Association.

Becoming a CNA

By Nicole Galan

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are important members of the healthcare team, helping the patient with their most basic physical and emotional needs. They assist the patient in performing basic self-care activities: walking to the bathroom, eating, drinking, dressing and bathing.

For bed-bound patients, CNAs perform total care: giving bed baths, feeding them, and changing their position every two hours to prevent bedsores. This can be a very physical job because CNAs are on their feet for many hours of the day, and must be strong enough to turn or help move patients.

While not formally allowed to assess their patients, CNAs are often the first to notice that something may be wrong. This is simply because the CNA gets to know her patients very well. Caring for people the way that they do allows nursing assistants to develop strong and caring relationships with their patients. Due to the intimate nature of their work, nursing assistants must be sensitive, trustworthy and compassionate.

Nursing assistants frequently work in hospitals, long-term care facilities and in homecare. They work with all ages and all patient populations, although in very critical situations, the CNA may need to perform patient care with the nurse present.

“Certified nursing assistants frequently work in hospitals, long-term care facilities and in homecare.”

Their facility’s policies will dictate a lot of what CNAs are allowed to do. Some hospitals will allow them to take vital signs or blood glucose readings; others will not.

To become a CNA, you must attend a training program that may last four to sixteen weeks. The training consists of time spent in the classroom, clinical setting and laboratory. A practical and written exam is given at the end of the training program. After passing the exam, candidates must submit all of their paperwork directly to the State Board of Nursing, who will issue the certification. Once certified, the CNA must complete a certain number of continuing education credits each year to stay in good standing. Check with your state nursing board for more information about their requirements.

List of Nursing Assistant Programs

Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

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Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
Aiken Technical College – Pre-Nursing Certificate
Pre-Nursing Certificate
ACEN Accredited
Aiken, SC
Allegany College of Maryland – Nursing
Nursing
ACEN Accredited
Cumberland, MD
Allegany College of Maryland – Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Aide
Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Aide
ACEN Accredited
Cumberland, MD
Anne Arundel Community College – Patient Care Technician/Geriatric Nursing Assistant
Patient Care Technician/Geriatric Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Arnold, MD
Arapahoe Community College – Nurse Aide
Nurse Aide
ACEN Accredited
Littleton, CO
Arizona Western College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Yuma, AZ
Arkansas Northeastern College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Blytheville, AR
Baptist School of Health Professions – Certified Nurse Assistant
Certified Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
San Antonio, TX
Beebe Medical Center – Nursing Assistant Program
Nursing Assistant Program
ACEN Accredited
Lewes, DE
Bellevue College – Nursing Assistant Certified
Nursing Assistant Certified
ACEN Accredited
Bellevue, WA
Bemidji State University – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
CCNE Accredited
Bemidji, MN
Bevill State Community College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Jasper, AL
Blackhawk Technical College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Janesville, WI
Blackhawk Technical College – Nursing Assistant-Advanced
Nursing Assistant-Advanced
ACEN Accredited
Janesville, WI
Bluegrass Community & Technical College – Nurse Aide
Nurse Aide
ACEN Accredited
Lexington, KY
BryanLGH College of Health Sciences – Basic Nursing Assistant
Basic Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Lincoln, NE
Canadian Valley Technology Center – Advanced Acute Care Nursing Assistant (Pre-Nursing)
Advanced Acute Care Nursing Assistant (Pre-Nursing)
ACEN Accredited
Chickasha, OK
Capital Area Career Center – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Springfield, IL
Carl Sandburg College – Nurse Assistant
Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Galesburg, IL
Central Arizona College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Coolidge, AZ
Central New Mexico Community College – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Albuquerque, NM
Central Ohio Technical College – State Tested Nurse Aides
State Tested Nurse Aides
ACEN Accredited
Newark, OH
Central Wyoming College – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Riverton, WY
Chaffey College – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Chemeketa Community College – Basic Nurse Assistant
Basic Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Salem, OR
Chippewa Valley Technical College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Eau Claire, WI
Chisholm Trail Technology Center – Advanced Acute Care Nursing Assistant (Pre-Nursing)
Advanced Acute Care Nursing Assistant (Pre-Nursing)
ACEN Accredited
Omega, OK
College of DuPage – Basic Nursing Assistant
Basic Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Glen Ellyn, IL
College of Lake County – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Grayslake, IL
College of Southern Nevada – Nursing Assistant Certificate
Nursing Assistant Certificate
ACEN Accredited
Las Vegas, NV
College of the Desert – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Palm Desert, CA
Collin County Community College District – Online Certified Nurse Assistant
Online Certified Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
McKinney, TX
Columbia Basin College – Online Nursing Assistant Certification
Online Nursing Assistant Certification
ACEN Accredited
Pasco, WA
Community College of Baltimore County – Online Nursing Assistant
Online Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Baltimore, MD
Community College of Beaver County – Nurse Aid
Nurse Aid
ACEN Accredited
Monaca, PA
Coppin State University – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
CCNE Accredited
Baltimore, MD
Coppin State University – Certified Nursing Assistant Training Program
Certified Nursing Assistant Training Program
ACEN Accredited
Baltimore, MD
Dalton State College – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Dalton, GA
Davidson County Community College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Lexington, NC
Davis Applied Technology College – Nurse Assistant
Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Kaysville, UT
Daytona State College – Nurse Aide and Orderly
Nurse Aide and Orderly
ACEN Accredited
Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona State College – Patient Care Assistant
Patient Care Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Daytona Beach, FL
Delta College – Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
University Center, MI
Deltla Montrose Community College – Nursing Aide
Nursing Aide
ACEN Accredited
Delta, CO
Des Moines Area Community College – Nurse Aide Training Program
Nurse Aide Training Program
ACEN Accredited
Ankeny, IA
Durham Technical Community College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Durham, NC
East Central Community College – Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Decatur, MS
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell – Nursing Assistant Program
Nursing Assistant Program
ACEN Accredited
Roswell, NM
El Camino Community College – Certified Nurse Assistant
Certified Nurse Assistant
ACEN Accredited
Torrance, CA
Elgin Community College – Basic Nurse Assistant Training
Basic Nurse Assistant Training
ACEN Accredited
Elgin, IL

Still Looking for a Nursing Program?

Here are some of the most popular nursing programs. On each page you will find a detailed writeup of the program, specific courses, and even schools that offer that program that are currently accepting applicants.