12 things to look for when Choosing a Nursing Assistant School
Consider the length of the program and whether it aligns with your timeline for entering the workforce.
Review the program’s curriculum to ensure it covers essential topics, such as basic nursing skills, anatomy and physiology, patient care, infection control, and communication.
Look for programs that provide hands-on clinical experience, which is crucial for developing practical skills and gaining confidence in a real-world healthcare setting.
Research the instructors’ qualifications and experience in the field, as knowledgeable and experienced faculty can provide valuable insights and guidance.
Smaller class sizes may offer more personalized attention and support, enhancing your learning experience.
Consider the program’s location and whether it is convenient for you, taking into account factors such as transportation and living arrangements.
Look for programs that offer flexible scheduling, such as part-time or online options, to accommodate your work, family, or other commitments.
Graduation and certification rates
Research the program’s graduation and certification rates, as high rates may indicate a successful program with well-prepared graduates.
Compare the tuition and fees of different programs, taking into account any financial aid or scholarship opportunities available.
Job placement assistance
Some programs offer job placement assistance or have strong connections with local healthcare employers, which can be helpful in securing a job after graduation.
Student support services
Investigate the available student support services, such as tutoring, academic advising, and career counseling, to help you succeed in the program and beyond.
Accreditation is an essential factor when choosing a nursing assistant program, as it ensures that the program meets specific educational standards and requirements. To ensure that you select an accredited program, consider the following:
First and foremost, the nursing assistant program should be approved by your state’s board of nursing or the appropriate regulatory body. State-approved programs will follow the required curriculum and guidelines set by the state, preparing you adequately for the certification exam and future employment.
In addition to state approval, it’s helpful to look for programs accredited by national organizations, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). These organizations evaluate and accredit nursing education programs, ensuring they meet specific quality standards.
An accredited program with a strong reputation in the industry can enhance your credibility as a nursing assistant and increase your employability. Research the program’s reputation by reading reviews, talking to current students or alumni, and checking the program’s success rates, such as graduation and certification rates.
Regular reviews and updates
Accredited programs undergo regular reviews and updates to maintain their accreditation status. This process ensures that the program stays up-to-date with industry standards and best practices, providing you with a relevant and high-quality education.
Transferability of credits
If you plan to further your education in nursing or another healthcare field, attending an accredited program will increase the likelihood of your credits being transferable to other institutions.
To verify a program’s accreditation, you can visit the websites of your state’s board of nursing, the CCNE, or the ACEN. Additionally, you can contact the program directly and inquire about their accreditation status. By choosing an accredited nursing assistant program, you can be confident that you are receiving a quality education that will prepare you for a successful career in healthcare.
Program duration is an important factor to consider when choosing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school, as it determines how long it will take to complete the program and enter the workforce.
Typical program length
Most CNA programs take 4 to 12 weeks to complete, depending on the curriculum, class schedule, and whether the program is full-time or part-time. Some programs may also offer accelerated options that allow you to complete the program in a shorter time frame.
Consider whether the program offers flexible scheduling, such as evening, weekend, or online classes, which can help you balance your education with other commitments, such as work or family responsibilities.
The number of required clinical hours may vary by state and program, but typically, CNA programs require at least 75 hours of combined classroom and clinical training. Some programs may require more clinical hours, which could extend the program duration.
Part-time vs. full-time
Depending on your needs and availability, you may prefer a part-time program that takes longer to complete but allows for greater flexibility or a full-time program that offers a more intensive experience and shorter completion time.
Some CNA schools offer accelerated programs that condense the curriculum into a shorter time frame, allowing you to complete your training and enter the workforce more quickly. These programs can be more demanding and require a significant time commitment.
When considering program duration, it’s essential to balance your need for a timely completion with the quality of the education and hands-on experience you will receive. It’s crucial to choose a program that provides adequate training, prepares you for the certification exam, and allows you to develop the necessary skills to be a successful CNA.
When choosing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school, reviewing the curriculum is crucial, as it will determine the skills and knowledge you acquire during your training. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the curriculum of a CNA program:
Ensure the curriculum covers the essential topics required for CNAs, such as basic nursing skills, anatomy and physiology, infection control, patient care, communication, and safety procedures. These topics will provide you with a solid foundation in nursing assistant practice and help you prepare for the certification exam.
Look for a program that includes hands-on clinical training in addition to classroom instruction. Clinical experience is invaluable for developing practical skills and gaining confidence in a real-world healthcare setting. Some programs may have partnerships with local healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities, where students can complete their clinical hours.
Each state may have specific requirements for CNA training programs, so make sure the curriculum aligns with your state’s guidelines. This alignment ensures that you will be adequately prepared for the state certification exam and meet the requirements for employment in your state.
Investigate the quality and comprehensiveness of the course materials provided by the program, such as textbooks, handouts, and online resources. High-quality materials will support your learning and help you better understand and retain the information.
Consider the teaching methods used in the program, such as lectures, demonstrations, simulations, group discussions, or problem-based learning. A diverse range of teaching methods can cater to different learning styles and help you grasp the material more effectively.
Ensure the program includes opportunities for skills assessment and feedback from instructors. This feedback will help you identify areas where you may need to improve and ensure you are on track to becoming a competent CNA.
By carefully evaluating the curriculum of a CNA program, you can ensure that it covers the necessary topics, provides hands-on experience, and meets state requirements, setting you up for success in your certification exam and future career as a nursing assistant.
Clinical experience is a vital component of nursing assistant training, as it allows students to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned in the classroom to real-life healthcare settings. When choosing a nursing assistant school, it is important to consider the following factors related to clinical experience:
Quality of clinical training
Ensure the program provides hands-on clinical experience supervised by qualified instructors or registered nurses. High-quality clinical training is crucial for developing practical skills, building confidence, and understanding the day-to-day responsibilities of a nursing assistant.
Variety of settings
Look for a program that offers clinical experience in diverse healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or home healthcare. Exposure to different environments can help you gain a well-rounded understanding of patient care and prepare you for various job opportunities after completing your training.
Number of clinical hours
Each state may have specific requirements for the number of clinical hours nursing assistant students must complete. Ensure the program you choose meets or exceeds these requirements to adequately prepare you for the certification exam and employment in your state.
Timing of clinical experience
Consider when the clinical training takes place within the program. Some programs may integrate clinical experience throughout the course, while others may schedule it towards the end. Both approaches have their merits, but it’s essential to choose a program that best aligns with your learning preferences and schedule.
A low student-to-instructor ratio during clinical training can provide more individualized attention, guidance, and support. This personalized approach can be beneficial in helping you develop and refine your skills as a nursing assistant.
Partnerships with healthcare facilities
Some nursing assistant programs have established partnerships with local healthcare facilities, providing students with opportunities to complete their clinical training in reputable and supportive environments. These partnerships can also be beneficial when seeking employment after completing the program.
Evaluating the clinical experience offered by a nursing assistant program is essential to ensure you gain the practical skills and confidence necessary to succeed as a nursing assistant. Hands-on experience is invaluable for bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world patient care.
When choosing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school, the quality of the faculty is a critical factor to consider, as the instructors play a vital role in your education and preparation for your career. Here are some aspects to consider when evaluating faculty at a CNA school:
Qualifications and experience
Look for a program with instructors who have relevant qualifications, such as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or nurse practitioners. They should also have extensive experience working in the healthcare field to provide you with valuable insights and practical knowledge.
In addition to professional qualifications, it’s important that the instructors have experience in teaching and are skilled in conveying complex concepts in an accessible manner. Effective teaching can significantly impact your ability to grasp and retain the material.
A low student-to-faculty ratio can provide more individualized attention and support, allowing you to receive personalized feedback and guidance throughout your training. This ratio can contribute to a better learning experience and help you develop the skills needed to succeed as a nursing assistant.
Approachability and support
Instructors should be approachable and open to answering questions or providing additional help when needed. A supportive faculty can foster a positive learning environment and contribute to your overall success in the program.
If available, review evaluations or feedback from previous students to gain insight into the instructors’ teaching effectiveness, communication skills, and ability to engage with students. This information can be valuable in determining the overall quality of the faculty.
Opportunities for interaction
Consider the program’s structure and the opportunities it provides for interaction with the faculty, such as office hours, group discussions, or workshops. These interactions can help you build relationships with your instructors and enhance your learning experience.
By carefully evaluating the faculty at a CNA school, you can ensure that you receive a high-quality education from experienced and dedicated professionals who can prepare you for success in your nursing assistant career.
Class size is an important aspect to consider when choosing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, as it can significantly impact your learning experience. Here are some factors to keep in mind when evaluating class size:
Smaller class sizes generally offer a lower student-to-teacher ratio, which can provide more individualized attention and support. This allows instructors to better address each student’s needs and offer personalized feedback and guidance throughout the program.
A smaller class size can create a more intimate and engaging learning environment, fostering better communication and collaboration among students and instructors. This can lead to more productive discussions, group activities, and a stronger sense of community within the class.
Opportunities for participation
In smaller classes, students typically have more opportunities to participate in discussions and ask questions. This increased involvement can enhance your understanding of the course material and contribute to a deeper learning experience.
Peer support and networking
Smaller classes can facilitate stronger connections among classmates, providing opportunities for peer support, collaboration, and networking. These connections can be valuable during the program and as you begin your career as a nursing assistant.
Instructors in smaller classes may be more accessible to students, as they have fewer students to manage. This accessibility can make it easier for you to seek clarification, ask questions, or request additional support when needed.
Quality of instruction
Smaller class sizes can enable instructors to tailor their teaching style and pace to better meet the needs of their students, ultimately enhancing the quality of instruction.
Location is an important factor to consider when selecting a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school, as it can affect your overall learning experience, convenience, and job prospects. Here are some aspects to keep in mind when evaluating the location of a CNA school:
Proximity to home or work
Choosing a CNA school close to your home or workplace can save you time and money on commuting, making it easier for you to attend classes and complete your training. This is especially important if you have work or family commitments that demand a flexible schedule.
Transportation and accessibility
Consider the availability and convenience of public transportation, parking, and accessibility options to ensure that you can easily and affordably commute to the school. This can make attending classes less stressful and more manageable.
Local job market
The local job market for CNAs can vary by location. Research the demand for nursing assistants in the area surrounding the school, as this can impact your job prospects upon graduation. Some locations may have a higher demand for CNAs, leading to better job opportunities and higher salaries.
Clinical experience opportunities
The location of a CNA school can affect the availability and quality of clinical experiences. Schools in urban areas may offer more diverse clinical settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers, while those in rural areas may have fewer options. Consider the type of clinical experience you would like to gain and ensure the school’s location can provide those opportunities.
Cost of living
The cost of living in the area surrounding the school can impact your overall expenses during your training. If you plan to relocate for your CNA program, consider housing, transportation, and living expenses in the area to ensure you can comfortably afford the costs.
The location of your CNA school can influence your ability to network with healthcare professionals and potential employers. Attending a school in an area with a thriving healthcare community can provide valuable connections and job opportunities upon graduation.
When choosing a CNA school, consider how the location aligns with your personal and professional goals, as well as your financial and logistical needs. By selecting a school in a location that suits your preferences, you can enhance your learning experience and set yourself up for success in your nursing assistant career.
Flexible scheduling is a crucial factor for many students when choosing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school, as it can have a significant impact on your ability to balance your training with other personal and professional commitments. Here are some aspects of flexible scheduling to consider when evaluating CNA schools:
Part-time vs. full-time programs
Some CNA schools offer both part-time and full-time program options, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your schedule. Part-time programs typically take longer to complete but require fewer hours per week, which may be ideal if you have other commitments such as work or family. Full-time programs are more intensive, allowing you to complete your training faster, but may require a more significant time commitment.
Evening and weekend classes
If you have daytime obligations like work or childcare, look for CNA schools that offer evening and/or weekend classes. This can make it easier for you to attend classes without disrupting your daily routine.
Online and hybrid programs
Some CNA schools offer online or hybrid programs, which combine online coursework with in-person clinical training. These options can provide greater flexibility and allow you to complete some or all of your coursework from home, making it easier to fit your training into your schedule.
If you want to complete your CNA training quickly, consider looking for accelerated programs. These programs are more intensive and require a higher time commitment but allow you to complete your training and begin working as a CNA sooner.
Start dates and enrollment periods
Consider the school’s start dates and enrollment periods when evaluating scheduling flexibility. Some schools may offer multiple start dates throughout the year or rolling admissions, allowing you to begin your training at a time that works best for you.
Leave of absence and program re-entry policies
It’s also essential to understand the school’s policies regarding leaves of absence and program re-entry. These policies can affect your ability to take a break from your training if necessary and resume your studies at a later date without losing progress.
When choosing a CNA school, consider how its scheduling options align with your personal and professional commitments. Flexible scheduling can make it easier for you to complete your training and successfully transition into a career as a nursing assistant.
Graduation and certification rates
Graduation and certification rates are important indicators of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school’s quality and effectiveness in preparing students for their careers. High graduation and certification rates suggest that the school provides a supportive learning environment and effective training that enables students to complete their program and pass their certification exams. Here are some aspects to consider when evaluating graduation and certification rates for CNA schools:
A school’s graduation rate reflects the percentage of students who complete their CNA program within a specified timeframe. High graduation rates can indicate that the school’s curriculum, faculty, and resources effectively support students in completing their training.
Certification exam pass rates
The certification exam pass rate is the percentage of students who pass the state-approved CNA certification exam on their first attempt. High pass rates suggest that the school’s curriculum effectively prepares students for the exam and that graduates are well-equipped to begin their careers as CNAs.
Comparison to state or national averages
When evaluating graduation and certification rates, it’s helpful to compare the school’s rates to state or national averages. Schools with rates that consistently meet or exceed these benchmarks are likely to provide a higher quality education and better prepare students for success in their careers.
Consistency over time
Look for trends in graduation and certification rates over time. Consistently high rates can be an indicator of a school’s long-term commitment to quality education and student success. Fluctuating or declining rates may warrant further investigation to determine the cause.
Student support services
High graduation and certification rates may also indicate that a school offers effective student support services, such as tutoring, academic advising, and career placement assistance. These services can play a crucial role in helping students complete their programs and transition into the workforce.
When choosing a CNA school, consider its graduation and certification rates as a measure of the quality of education and training it provides. High rates can help ensure that you receive the support and preparation necessary to complete your program and successfully launch your career as a certified nursing assistant.
Job placement assistance
Job placement assistance is a valuable service offered by some Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) schools to help their graduates find employment after completing their training. This support can make it easier for you to transition from your education to a career as a CNA. Here are some aspects to consider when evaluating job placement assistance when choosing a CNA school:
Career services department
Check if the CNA school has a dedicated career services department that offers job placement assistance to its graduates. These departments typically provide resources, such as job listings, resume writing guidance, interview coaching, and networking opportunities to help you find employment in your field.
Job placement rates
Inquire about the school’s job placement rates, which indicate the percentage of graduates who find employment in their field within a specific timeframe after completing their program. High job placement rates suggest that the school’s job placement assistance is effective in helping graduates secure CNA positions.
Some CNA schools establish partnerships with local healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies, to provide job placement opportunities for their graduates. These partnerships can make it easier for you to find a job, as the school may have direct connections to employers who are looking to hire CNAs.
Job fairs and on-campus recruitment
Look for CNA schools that host job fairs or on-campus recruitment events, where employers come to the school to interview and potentially hire students. These events can be an excellent opportunity for you to meet potential employers and learn about job openings in your area.
A strong alumni network can be a valuable resource when searching for a job. Some CNA schools may have active alumni associations or online networking platforms that allow graduates to connect with one another, share job leads, and offer support during the job search process.
When choosing a CNA school, consider the job placement assistance services it offers to help you find employment after completing your training. These services can make it easier for you to transition into the workforce and begin your career as a certified nursing assistant.
Student support services
Student support services play a crucial role in the overall success and well-being of students enrolled in Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) programs. These services help students navigate challenges they may face during their training and ensure that they have the necessary resources to succeed. Here are some aspects to consider when evaluating student support services when choosing a CNA school:
Academic support and tutoring
Look for a CNA school that offers academic support, such as tutoring or study groups, to help students who may need additional assistance with course material. These services can make a significant difference in helping students succeed academically and complete their training.
If you have a disability or require accommodations, it’s essential to choose a CNA school that provides accessibility services, such as alternative testing formats or note-taking assistance, to support your learning needs.
Counseling and mental health services
Some CNA schools offer counseling and mental health services to help students cope with stress, anxiety, or other personal issues that may arise during their training. These services can be essential in ensuring your overall well-being and success in the program.
Financial aid assistance
A CNA school with dedicated financial aid staff can help you navigate the process of applying for scholarships, grants, or loans to fund your education. This support can be invaluable in helping you secure the necessary resources to complete your training.
Career advising and guidance
Look for a CNA school that provides career advising services, which can help you make informed decisions about your educational and career goals. These services may include assistance with job searching, resume writing, and interview preparation.
Student organizations and clubs
Schools that offer student organizations or clubs related to healthcare or nursing can provide additional support and networking opportunities for CNA students. These groups can help you connect with like-minded peers, share experiences, and learn from one another.
Orientation and mentoring programs
Some CNA schools may offer orientation or mentoring programs to help new students acclimate to the school environment and provide guidance from experienced peers. These programs can provide additional support during your transition into the CNA program.
When choosing a CNA school, consider the range and quality of student support services it offers. These services can play a significant role in helping you succeed academically, emotionally, and professionally during your training and beyond