There is a shocking amount of acronyms in this field! CNAs, HHAs, STNAs, PCAs, LPNs . . . the list goes on and on. Today, we’d like to clear up a couple of those for you and illuminate the differences between a CNA and an LPN. Maybe some of you are considering taking a step further in your nursing career and becoming an LPN! But how do you go from being a CNA to an LPN? Read on for clarity and answers!
First of all, most of us know that a CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant. CNA jobs usually entail working directly under a supervising LPN or RN and assisting him/her by helping the patient with daily living needs. On the other hand, an LPN (or Licensed Practical Nurse) is qualified to directly provide basic nursing care to patients (ie. administering meds), while still under the supervision of an RN.
How does one become an LPN? Most people attend an accredited community or vocational school that has a specific LPN program. Many of these programs come in the form of a 2-year associates degree, but you can find some 1-year accelerated programs. LPNs, like CNAs, work in a supervised clinical setting as well as studying in the classroom. Finally, aspiring LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN exam as well as apply with the board of nursing in the state where they want to practice.
So why become an LPN? It seems that LPNs are found in many of the same places as caregivers and CNAs – hospitals, nursing homes, home health, assisted living, and more. The real difference lies in their level of education, specific job duties, and their caregiver PAY! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, CNAs were earning a median hourly wage of $11.63, while LPNs were earning $19.79. That’s a big jump! So for those of you who might be considering becoming an LPN, there’s a motivator!
Getting LPN certified is not easy; it’s challenging and time consuming. But if you’re the kind of person who wants to move onward and upward in your nursing career, this could be the right step. Comment and tell us your thoughts! We love to hear from our community of caregivers, CNAs, HHAs, and aspiring LPNs!
Also, if you’re looking for ongoing caregiver training or CNA CEUs, be sure to checkout the online caregiver training center.
If you think that CNA job opportunities are limited, think again.
First, there are many types of employers and job opportunities available to nurse aides, caregivers, and CNAs alone in hospitals, clinics, assisted living, nursing homes, nursing agencies, and more.
But there are other ways to use CNA or other caregiver job experiences to help you build your medical career.
Here are just a few examples:
- Caregivers: If you’re currently a non-certified caregiver, consider earning a CNA certification. Getting certified not only helps you negotiate a higher pay, but CNA training can also help you battle caregiver burnout, land more opportunities, and help you grow towards the medical career you want.
- Nursing students: There are some states that allow nursing students to work as a CNA while earning their nursing degree without having to pay for additional CNA training. Not only does additional CNA and caregiver training help you hone your skills, but it can help prepare you mentally for the career challenges ahead. And with more experience, you’ll be ready to handle any potential threats of caregiver burnout. To make sure this opportunity applies to you, check with your state nurse aide registry to learn more.
- Pre-Med Students: If you’re shooting for medical school or PA school, then gaining experience working in a hospital would be a great way to understand the medical field. The trick is to start early! Consider attending CNA training during the summer and working at a clinic, hospital, or other CNA hiring positions during the school year or the following summer. It also opens up great opportunities for networking.
So what’s it going to be? Comment below and share your own success story!
The life of a Nurse Aide Job, aka CNA, is incredibly rewarding AND challenging. CNAs are directly responsible for the care of another life, and that’s a pretty big deal. They are essential to the healthcare industry- without them the system falls apart. We know we’re biased, but we think we’re all pretty important (says said CNA that is writing this blog post from the cold headquarters of myCNAjobs in Chicago).
What’s so special about nurse aide work? Well, they’re basically heroes!
Nurse aides help to meet the everyday living needs of patients. This means they help with dressing, bathing, feeding, ambulation, and more. They allow patients to live as comfortably as possible in their current situations. Often times, nurse aides make it possible for elderly people to remain in their homes, which is inexpressibly important to many patients.
Working as a nurse aide also involves relationships. Being a CNA means spending time getting to know your patients. They understand how to maximize the patient’s comfort simply because they know their likes and dislikes. Basically, they provide personalized care rather than aloof, apathetic care.
As we all know, this work isn’t easy. It’s a constant challenge and a real learning process. Nurse aides have to be careful to not only take care of their patients, but also to take care of themselves (or can we say CAREGIVER BURNOUT)! In doing so, they heighten their effectiveness at work.
So, to all our myCNAjobs nurse aides, thank you for doing your jobs will excellence! You’re changing lives for the better with your nurse aide work.
We know that certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are an essential gear in the machine that is health care. But perhaps they’re even more essential than we’ve thought before. Did you know that of the total nursing staff in nursing homes, 60 to 70 percent of them are certified nursing assistants (CNAs)? And those CNAs provide 80 to 90 percent of the direct care for residents of nursing homes. Patients rely on CNAs for the most basic care, such as providing assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting, and keeping a watchful eye for changes in overall health. Take away CNAs and the whole operation falls apart!
Because of this, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with a Certified Nursing Assistant Job, and if the pressure isn’t dealt with, it can be harmful to the CNA’s well-being (can we say caregiver burnout?) So what can be done about it? CNA self-care! If you care for the health of yourself, you help care for the health of the entire system.
Here are a few suggestions for CNA self-care to help prevent burnout:
- Ongoing caregiver training – CNAs that are constantly learning are better able to adapt and adjust to stressful situation. The healthcare field is constantly changing and education is helpful for keeping up with it! (and if you’re looking for CNA CEUs, be sure to check out the low cost online caregiver training for certified nursing assistants)
- Find a release – It can be a good idea to have a healthy outlet for the stress that comes with a CNA job. Recently, one of our caregivers from the myCNAjobs community shared with us that painting helps her cope with the stress of work. Other outlets could be reading, running, art, cooking, etc. It seems simple, but taking time to do something you enjoy can be a great way to unwind and come back to work feeling refreshed.
- Seek help when you need it – Sometimes we need to talk through our experiences as a caregiver or CNA. Find a friend or family member who’s a good listener; or if it’s more serious, seek out a counselor who can help you understand and deal with your experiences in a healthy manner.
Being a CNA is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding work. And there’s no way health care could function without them. So, myCNAjobs is sending out a sincere and HUGE thank you to our CNAs for all their heroic work! We appreciate you. Keep doing that incredible thing you do!
Everybody loves a freebie, but free CNA programs? It’s okay if you’re skeptical – it does sound too good to be true. But truth be told, there are options out there that will provide CNA training free of charge! This requires a bit of digging and it takes on different forms depending on the CNA School, but there are certainly options out there – and we’ve provided a list to make it a bit simpler!
Some free CNA programs worth considering . . .
- CNA Scholarships – This is probably the most common option for free CNA school. Lots of colleges and technical institutes offer plentiful scholarships. All you have to do is fill out some paperwork and your CNA education might just be paid for! If you’re searching for nursing scholarships, be sure to check our nursing scholarship.
- Assisted Living Communities – Due to the rise of elderly clients in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other residential care facilities are in desperate need of well-trained Certified Nursing Assistants to work for them. Because of this high demand, many of these communities have begun providing free CNA programs, to increase their CNA/resident ratio and provide better care for their clients.
- Job Corps – In many states, this government organization provides free nurse assistant programs to young people who qualify as low-income.
- American Red Cross – Some locations of this nonprofit organization will train nursing assistants free of charge. Programs vary by state, but their goal as an organization is to help communities and people in need, and they are doing so by training others to assist in carrying out their mission.
These are exciting opportunities for aspiring CNAs to get training for free. Do keep in mind that though the tuition for CNA training may be free, there may be cost involved for study materials, lab costs, exam fees, etc. For more information on free CNA programs in your state, check out this list of free state CNA training options.
And if you’re not looking for CNA training, but want to learn more about caregiver, check out online caregiver training courses.
If you’re considering getting an HHA Certificate, this is for you! Becoming an HHA (home health aide) is a great career move. It’s the fastest growing profession in America so if you do well in your program, have a caring heart, and can pass the appropriate screens, you’re almost certain to find a home health aide job. Getting a HHA certification is the first step in booming a certified home health aide. Many states allow you to work as a companion caregiver without formal training, however getting your certificate as a home health aide will lead to higher caregiver pay, more career opportunities, and less caregiver burnout – the more you know, the better prepared you will be on the job.
Here are some of our Frequently Asked Questions about becoming an HHA:
Q: Will becoming an HHA increase my chances of getting a job?
A: YES. Did you know that according to the US’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, job availability for HHAs is expected to grow 69% from 2010 to 2020? That’s way faster than the average job growth of all other occupations. This is the perfect time to get an HHA Certificate and take advantage of such a hot job market!
Q: How do I get an HHA Certificate?
A: To get certified as an HHA, you need to find an accredited HHA Certificate Program in your State. Check your state nurse registry and verify school credentials before selecting a program. Also, ask about job placement support. Good schools help students find their first job as a home health aide.
Q: Do HHAs get paid more than companions?
A: Generally speaking, yes. With certification comes higher pay. Also, many states are now starting to require the home care agencies hire more skilled workers. You can likely find an HHA program for less than a thousand dollars and over time, you’ll easily make this money back in higher caregiver wages. HHAs are typically paid about one to two dollars more per hour than caregivers without any formalized training. For more specific information on HHA pay, check out the Caregiver, CNA, and HHA Pay Guide.
For more benefits to taking an HHA test and getting certified, see our previous blog post on the Pros of Taking a Home Health Aide Test.
Featured this week: Moriah Brown
Greeting Caregivers, CNAs and HHAs!
As you know, we’ve started a blog series that we’re calling “A Day in the Life of a Caregiver/CNA/HHA.” We’ve collected some of your stories and wisdom from your personal experiences to share with the myCNAjobs caregiver community!
Our featured caregiver of the week is Moriah Brown! We asked Moriah some questions in order to give you another personalized perspective into working a caregiver job. Here’s what Moriah had to say . . .
Q: Tell us a little about yourself! What’s your name? Where are you from? Are you currently working as a caregiver/CNA/HHA?
A: My name is Moriah Brown and I’m a recent transplant to the Carlsbad area from Portland, Oregon. For a while I was working and going to school full time, and as much as I wanted to devote all of my energy to both school and being a caregiver, I couldn’t do both things well- so I took a break from caregiving. Now that I’ve finished my degree, I am ready to refocus and get back into a caregiver job!
Q: Why did you originally choose to become a caregiver? What keeps you working as a caregiver?
A: I started as a caregiver when I was 18 years old; it was originally a fluke! I got a job as a dishwasher in the kitchen of an assisted living home so I could save up money to move out of my parents house. Not long after, I was offered an opportunity to work as a caregiver. I’ve continued caregiving for 8 years now because I love it! I love the people I work with- it’s such a good feeling to come home at the end of the day and feel like you’ve spent your day doing something good for someone else.
Q: What is one challenge you face at your job? How do you overcome it?
A: I am a naturally empathetic person, so it can be difficult to see someone endure what is often times not an easy or pleasant time of their life. I do art outside of caregiving to give myself a healthy and productive outlet. I have also learned to manage my expectations of what progress can mean from patient to patient.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for new or aspiring caregivers, CNAs or HHAs?
A: Remember that each patient is an individual person and don’t forget to treat them that way! It can be easy to form a routine and stop seeing people as individuals, but you have to remember that this is the reason you became a caregiver, so you need to give them your best. Every. Single. Time.
Q: What’s your favorite part about going to work each day?
A: Every job and each person is different. You might have a bad day or a great one, but you’ll never be bored!
Does Moriah’s experience sound similar to yours? Or is it pretty different? Comment and tell us your personal experience working a caregiver or nurse aide job! Keep checking back hear from more caregivers in our “Day in the Life” blog!
Being a caregiver requires you to follow a pretty rigid routine. Many of your day-to-day duties are incredibly similar. You fall into certain rhythms and patterns. And that’s a good thing! It means you’re perfecting your job – you know what needs doing and you get it done! Your client or patients probably appreciate it a lot!
But do you ever get an itch to mix things up a bit? Not even just for your sake, but for the sake of your clients too? Here are some suggestions to add some new excitement to your caregiver job!
- Celebrate holidays. This is just an awesome excuse to have some fun! Obviously the appropriateness of what you can do depends on your client, but you can figure something out! For example, bring them a small gift and a card on their birthday and sing to them! Or make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
- Play a board game or a card game. Ask your client what kinds of games they enjoy and offer to play a few rounds! When I was a caregiver for a family member of mine, we played endless games of rummy and had a BLAST!
- Listen to music together. Casually ask about their favorite music and surprise them by bringing a CD next time you see them! This is a great one because you can listen to music while going about your daily routine with your client – fun and efficient!
- Go on an outing. If your client or patient is mobile, visit a museum, go see a movie, or just go on a walk together. This one is definitely dependent on the circumstances of your client, but if it’s OK-ed with the supervising RN and the family, suggest it to your client!
- Make their favorite meal. Again, if it’s approved with the RN, this could be a special treat for you and the client! Everyone loves food.
Being a caregiver can be really fun – it’s such a rewarding career choice. Mix up your routine with some fun, enjoyable activities for you and your client. Just be sure to check with the supervising RN and family members if these would be appropriate for your specific client!
And, we’d love to get your take. Any ideas for fellow caregivers working caregiver and CNA jobs? What do you do to spice up your job?
Thursday maybe all about Thanks, but Tuesday is all about giving.
We wanted to celebrate Giving Tuesdays with our Caregivers with #UNselfie.
Show us how or why you’re giving thanks this year and share it with us through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Write a brief message on a piece of paper included in the picture or just write it down in the caption. Use the #UNselfie and #CAREgiver hashtags and spread the love!
We’ll feature the best UNselfies on Thanksgiving!