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How to Select the Best CNA School Near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama CNA reviewing patient chart with NurseOnce you have decided to enter the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, it's time to start the process of searching for CNA training classes near Decatur AL. Once you have achieved your certification, you will begin a gratifying career in one of the fastest expanding occupations in health care within the United States. Although it may well seem like an overwhelming endeavor, it's important that you select the best program to receive the appropriate training and education. Many prospective students start with the two most basic qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You may additionally be considering whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them at home. More concerning that option later. But doing your due diligence before deciding on a program involves much more than comparing the tuition or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into account. We will be addressing those subjects along with several other questions that you need to be asking before you register in a CNA school. But to begin with, let's discuss a little bit about the type of training and credentials that are available.

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CNA Training

Decatur Alabama CNA with senior female patient in nursing home

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at community colleges or at Decatur AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's crucial to make certain that the program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training is state certified. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.

Online CNA Schools

Decatur Alabama young woman student enrolled in CNA training onlineEnrolling in CNA schools online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain instruction and attain a certificate or diploma in Decatur AL. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend college for many students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). So if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online CNA school will make it more convenient to fit earning a certificate into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask CNA Schools

Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of CNA schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive an excellent education and employment in the Decatur AL area, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification prerequisites for CNAs vary from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Decatur AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA colleges you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Decatur AL medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for certification as well. Find out if the schools have associations with local Decatur AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

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