How to Become a CNA in Pennsylvania
Certified nursing assistants (CNA) are in demand as the nature of nursing changes. With the advancement of healthcare options coupled with longevity, the growing population requires healthcare for longer periods of time. The field of nursing is expanding and through the year 2020, nursing assistant opportunities will increase by a rate of 20%.
To ensure the safety of the patients and the best care possible, CNAs are required to complete a training program approved by the Pennsylvania Board of nursing (PBON) and the State Health Department. The state age limit requires a candidate to be at least 16 years old to be eligible take the training program and state licensing exam, but some training facilities require an enrollee to be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates must also be proficient in math and English, pass a criminal background and fingerprint check and a complete physical exam and infectious disease screening.
The federal CNA training program requirements include a two part, 75 hour program covering class work and clinical training, but the state of Pennsylvania requires the program to cover class work and hands on clinical training in a 120 hour program. Clinical training must take place in a healthcare facility and allow the student to participate in hands on training.
After the training is completed, CNA candidates are required to pass a state mandated two part exam that includes a written portion and clinical skills demonstration. Both parts of the exam must be passed successfully to become licensed. Both parts of the exam are based on the class work and clinical skills training. The written exam includes 70 multiple choice questions, to be completed within 90 minutes, and the clinical skills portion requires the candidate to demonstrate 5 clinical skills chosen at random and evaluated by the examination board. 4 of the 5 clinical skills must be completed with 100% accuracy to pass this part of the test. When the CNA has successfully passed the exam, they will be added to the Board of Nursing Registry and receive a certificate within a reasonable time frame.
The exam is administrated by Pearson VUE Testing Services. After completing the training program, CNA candidates will register with Pearson VUE and then be assigned a date to test. The candidate has up to 24 months from the date of program completion to take the exam. If the exam is not taken within that time frame, the training program will have to be completed again.
With a valid license in hand, the CNA can seek out employment opportunities in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted care facilities, rehabilitative care centers and private home care and any other short or long term care facility. CNAs may work one of three shifts, day, evening or night and work on a rotating weekday, weekend basis.
CNAs are required to renew their license every two years. CNAs must be able to document at least 8 hours of CNA employment. The license can be renewed online or via postal mail.
The average CNA salary is $28,000 annually. The staring salary is $19,000 annually. Salary will increase with additional and specialized training and experience. The actual salary will also depend on the facility where employed, geographic location of the facility and years of experience. The maximum CNA salary will top out at about $49,000.
Becoming a CNA is often used as a stepping stone to a nursing career. Nursing students often become CNAs to increase their level of experience while attending school and often times will find better nursing opportunities upon graduation because of their CNA training and experience.
CNA Training Classes in Pennsylvania
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