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  • Training and Other Important Needs for Nursing Assistants
  • Nanci Robinson

Training of Nursing Assistants

I think the nursing assistant (NA) training programs should be longer. My original course for Long Term Care was four weeks long after that I took an additional two months at a hospital to work on a Med/ Surg floor. So, I have a combined three months of schooling.

Personally, I'd like to see certified nursing assistants (CNAs) given more responsibilities. I'd like to see a six-month program to include CPR and capillary blood glucose (CBG) training as well as more in depth anatomy training. I think six months would keep some, who are just looking for money, out of the field and help keep those of us who really want a career in nursing in the field. It would be a better stepping stone for those who plan to go on to a LPN or RN program.

I currently have CBG training but my employer will not let me use it. It's disappointing because it's a skill I have that I can't use and it could really help out the nurses. I think if courses were a bit longer, CNAs might be taken a bit more seriously by their employers and respected by their colleagues in the medical field.

I was trained in CBG while working for the hospital and received a card like a CPR card to show I was trained. I live and work and was trained in Arkansas. I'm not allowed to do CBGs in the long-term care and rehab facility where I work now, though. However, unless the resident is diabetic we do have to clip and file nails. It took many years for nurses to gain respect and be allowed to do some things that now CNAs do. For example, for many years doctors didn't feel nurses were qualified to even take vital signs. I suppose CNAs will have the same struggle. [End Page 147]

"I'm wondering if extending the initial training time would not keep many out of the field, because they need a job with income ASAP." The same could be said for LPN training, could it not? Or even an RN. I don't understand why there is a train of thought that "anyone" should be allowed to be a CNA and as quickly as possible. I can tell when I'm working alongside a Certified Nursing Assistant who is in it because they want to be versus someone who wants the paycheck (not sure why, though, because to be honest Arkansas doesn't pay CNAs all that great, though I suppose for some it might be better than McDonalds). I took a $5 an hour paycut go get back into nursing because it's my passion, and while we all need a paycheck, that should not be the only reason for doing this work.

"If extending the initial training time would keep many out of the field because they need a job with income ASAP, maybe employer facility-specific follow-up training would seem to be much more feasible for all. A CNA-in-training could be responsible for a lighter than 'normal' shift assignment while under the guidance of a qualified proctor CNA. It could improve efficiency and quality of care in the long run and probably improve retention rate of CNAs, for those administrators that are astute enough to consider the long-term effects of their policies." This might be good—the only problem is that most facilities aren't going to want to absorb any cost this might create by having additional staff for this purpose. Also, on the job training is not appreciated by employers as much as what might be considered actual "education" hours. Most CNAs want to do as much patient care as they can for the nurse—learning to assist with dressing changes, CBGs and other things that would be beneficial for both CNAs and the Nurse.

Ensuring there is enough staff and that those staff members are there for the right reasons would do much more to improve the retention rate of NAs or CNAs. (I'm a...


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