Nursing Assistant vs. Certified Nursing Assistant
While the terms “nursing assistant” and “certified nursing assistant” are often used interchangeably, it is essential to understand the key differences between the two roles:
Training and Education
A certified nurse assistant (CNA) has completed a state-approved training program that typically consists of a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. In contrast, a nursing assistant may not have undergone formal training and might rely on on-the-job training or experience in the role. Formal CNA training programs generally cover topics such as infection control, patient care, communication, and basic nursing skills.
A CNA has passed a state-administered competency examination, which is usually divided into two parts: a written test and a practical skills evaluation. Successful completion of this exam grants the individual a CNA certification, allowing them to practice in their state. In contrast, a nursing assistant may not hold any formal certification, which may limit their scope of practice and job opportunities.
Scope of Practice
CNAs typically have a more extensive scope of practice compared to non-certified nursing assistants. They are authorized to perform a wider range of tasks and responsibilities, such as taking and recording vital signs, administering prescribed treatments, and even assisting with certain medical procedures under the supervision of a nurse. Non-certified nursing assistants might be limited in their responsibilities and may be restricted from performing certain tasks that require certification.
CNAs generally have greater job opportunities and may be more sought after by employers, particularly in settings like hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities that require a higher level of patient care. Non-certified nursing assistants might find employment in settings where formal certification is not mandatory or where on-the-job training is sufficient. However, many healthcare facilities are increasingly requiring nurse assistants to hold CNA certification.
Continuing Education and Career Advancement
CNAs may have more opportunities for continuing education and career advancement. They can pursue further certifications or training, such as becoming a Certified Medication Assistant (CMA) or pursuing a nursing degree to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). Non-certified nurse assistants may have fewer options for career growth and might need to obtain certification or additional training to advance in the field.
It is important to note that the specific differences between nursing assistants and certified nursing assistants can vary depending on the state or country’s regulations and requirements.