3 Compelling Benefits of Becoming a Nurse Assistant
Many healthcare vocations come with great advantages, and nursing assistance is frequently one of them. After all, it's an occupational area that is becoming more important with each year that passes. And long-term caregiving, in particular, offers enriching opportunities for career seekers who value being able to share their warm personalities through active and engaging work. Just think about these facts:
- More than 8.3 million Americans receive long-term care services.* They have physical or mental limitations that make it difficult or impossible to carry out routine activities on their own like bathing, getting dressed, eating, or moving from place to place.
- Over half of long-term care patients receive help at home, but more than 1.3 million reside in nursing homes, and more than 1.2 million reside in hospices. The rest receive skilled nursing assistance through adult day services or while living in residential care communities.*
- Among people aged 65 and older, roughly one-third of them, on average, have one or more limitations that impact their daily functionality. And for those over the age of 85, that proportion goes up to about two-thirds.**
So a lot of job possibilities exist in long-term care settings. But about one-quarter of nurse assistants work in hospitals, meaning that this field has quite a bit of employment variety.*** And the benefits don't end there. Check out a few of the other top advantages of going into this field:
1. Quick Training and Certification
Compared to many other in-demand occupations, this one requires relatively little training. In fact, a lot of nurse assistant courses take as little as seven or eight weeks to complete. And even programs that are more in-depth only tend to take about seven months. Then, once you have your post-secondary certificate or diploma, the only other credential you may need is state certification, which usually involves a pretty simple process.
Federal law requires nurse assistants who work in long-term care facilities like nursing homes to be registered in their states. And some states require all nurse assistants (also called nurse aides) to be registered and certified regardless of the settings they work in. So, do you want to know how to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA)? Here's the simplest way:
- Successfully complete a short nursing assistant course or program that is approved by your state. It might include classroom training as well as supervised practice within a clinical setting.
- Pass your state's nursing assistant competency exam.
In many states, you'll be registered and certified as a CNA after those two basic steps. Some states may also require you to pass a simple background check. And a lot of states also offer the opportunity to earn further credentials that can allow you to give medications to patients or to become a specialist in specific areas of the field such as geriatrics or hospice care.
That's why it's a smart idea to find out about the specific requirements and opportunities in your state. Here are just a few examples of where different states post that kind of information:
- Department of Public Health
- Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
- New Jersey Department of Health
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
- Nevada State Board of Nursing
2. Exceptional Job Outlook
Seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of America's population. In fact, about 20 percent of the U.S. population is expected to be over the age of 65 by 2050 (compared to only 12 percent in 2000).** And that means demand is quickly rising for all kinds of healthcare services, especially for patient care necessitated by age-related conditions like dementia, loss of mobility, and other chronic limitations.
That's why the number of jobs for nurse aides and assistants is projected to increase by 18 percent between 2014 and 2024.*** More and more elderly and disabled people will need skilled and compassionate care, making this one of the most reliable vocations you can choose to pursue.
3. Connection, Purpose, and Fulfillment
It would be hard to match the high level of contentment that many nurse assistants feel in their daily lives. After all, they get to do something that nourishes their hearts and provides a sense of being connected to a larger purpose. That's because this career is about so much more than just measuring vital signs, making observations, or helping people bathe, eat, dress, or move around.
Nursing aides and assistants also frequently become like family to the people they help. Their patients might be parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, or lifelong friends to others who can't be there for them each day. And sometimes a nurse assistant might be the closest thing they still have to family in their lives.
That can make every day in this vocation truly special. By providing care and comfort to patients, you get the chance to experience the kinds of emotional rewards that few other career paths can offer.
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* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Long-Term Care Services in the United States, website last accessed on September 24, 2015.
** Congressional Budget Office, Rising Demand for Long-Term Services and Supports for Elderly People, website last accessed on September 24, 2015.
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last accessed on March 11, 2016.