Certified Nursing Assistants Are in Demand During COVID-19
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
COVID-19 is placing unprecedented strain on the health care system in the US. As a result, the demand for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) has never been higher. Becoming a CNA is now a viable possibility for many Americans who may have lost a previous job due to shelter-in-place orders. Here is a closer look at the CNA career path for anyone who is considering it.
What Is a CNA?
A Certified Nursing Assistant is an important part of the front-line team at any health care facility. CNAs work in hospitals, community clinics and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. They work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Nursing Supervisor at a health care facility. If you have been to a healthcare checkup of any kind and an employee takes your vital signs, such as checking your blood pressure, height, and weight that person was most likely a CNA.
CNA Training Path
Texas requires 100 hours of health care training time to earn a CNA certification. This includes 60 hours of in-classroom training and 40 hours in clinical labs. Once you have completed the training and earned the certification, you are qualified to work in most public health care facilities in Texas. The coursework is condensed into about four weeks, so it is a relatively short amount of training time for anyone interested in shifting to a career in health care.
CNA Career Path
Starting wages for CNAs range from $9 to $13 an hour, with experience and regular pay raises eventually leading to an hourly wage of up to $25. That is assuming that a person chooses to remain a CNA for the duration of their career, with no additional training. Working as a CNA can also put a person on a career path to better-paying jobs within the health care system. It is not unusual for CNAs to receive additional education and move up the career ladder to become licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), registered nurses (RNs) and eventually nurse practitioners (NPs).
A Certified Nursing Assistant job is a full-time, 40-hour-per-week position. It is also not unusual for CNAs to work full-time in one health care facility, and to also have a part-time job at another facility due to a lack of CNAs within the healthcare system. Jobs in this field are abundant right now, making it an attractive option for many retail and restaurant workers who have lost their employment due to shelter-in-place orders.
An Even Greater Demand for CNAs during COVID-19
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for Certified Nursing Assistants will continue to grow by about 9 percent per year for the next decade, outpacing job growth in many other sectors. Demand for CNAs is growing right now specifically because of the strain that COVID-19 is placing on the health care system.
Another result is that CNA training programs have shifted to include specific COVID-19 education for these employees. Extra emphasis is being placed on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as training about viruses, mutation, and the disease process. CNA trainees are learning the differences between contamination and contact isolation versus airborne isolation, as well how to keep themselves and their patients safe and keeping their families safe when they go home after a work shift.
Even aside from the current increase in demand for CNAs due to COVID-19, becoming a CNA is a viable path for the next decade for anyone seeking a career in health care.