Certification as a nursing assistant requires a high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate, successful completion of a state-approved training program and passing a comprehensive certification exam. While state requirements vary, registering with the state is the final step prior to securing employment as a certified nursing assistant.
Those entering certification training programs may need to complete courses in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, undergo screening for tuberculosis and provide vaccination records prior to beginning the training.
Certified nursing assistants provide direct patient care, such as transferring patients from bed to wheelchair and assisting them with eating, bathing and using the bathroom. The work requires patience, compassion and physical strength. Strong observational and communication skills are also necessary. The nursing assistant often spends more time with a patient than any other member of the care team, putting them in a position to provide important information to the nurses and doctors regarding changes in the patient's condition.
Classroom study and clinical and laboratory experience are part of certification training. Training topics include anatomy, blood testing, patient rights, health and medical ethics and controlling and preventing infections. Hands-on experience, such as measuring blood pressure and blood oxygen levels, testing blood sugar levels, catheter care and patient transfers, is an essential part of the supervised clinical training.