What qualifications are needed to become a nurse aide or nursing assistant?


Quick Answer

To become a nurse’s assistant or nurse aide, obtain a high school diploma or GED, attend training through a state-approved education program, and pass a competency exam. Vocational and technical schools, community colleges, some high schools, nursing homes and hospitals offer state-approved programs for nurse aides. A period of on-the-job training is sometimes required after obtaining a job as a nurse aide.

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Full Answer

Nurse aide training generally involves instruction on basic patient care and nursing principles, and training programs generally require participants to complete supervised clinical work. Some states require a criminal background check. Once a nursing assistant passes the competency exam, the state agency handling certification places the person’s name in the state registry.

Additional training in some states allows the nursing assistant to obtain a certified medication assistant credential, or CMA. The CMA can give medications to patients, so obtaining this credential broadens the job outlook for the nurse aide. In some states, nursing assistant candidates can seek out specialty training, such as geriatric training.

In addition to training, people seeking nurse aide certification should have good communication skills to work effectively with patients and interact with other health care team members. The nurse aide should have compassion for the elderly, injured and sick, and patience to perform routine bathing, feeding and cleaning tasks. Also, nurse aides should have good physical stamina, since they spend most of their working day on their feet.

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