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How to Select the Right Accredited CNA School Near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville 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 finding CNA classes near Huntsville AL. As soon as you have earned your certification, you will be starting a rewarding career in one of the fastest increasing occupations in medical care within the United States. Although it may seem like a challenging endeavor, it's important that you select the right school to acquire the necessary training and education. A number of prospective students start with the two most essential qualifications, which are the location of the school and the price of tuition. You might also be contemplating whether to attend CNA classes on campus, or enroll in an online CNA program and attend them at home. More about that alternative later. But performing your due diligence prior to selecting a school consists of far more than comparing the price or location. Such factors as accreditation and the reputation of the school must also be taken into account. We will be covering those subjects along with several other questions that you should be asking before you enroll in a CNA school. But first, let's discuss a little bit about the kind of training and credentials that are available.

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CNA Programs

Huntsville Alabama Nursing Assistant with senior woman in nursing home

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be received at community colleges or at Huntsville AL vocational or trade schools. The length of the training can take anywhere from one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction directed and that each state has its own requirements. So it's crucial to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure 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 can be additional prerequisites as well.

CNA Online Schools

Huntsville Alabama young woman student enrolled in CNA training onlineEnrolling in CNA classes online is growing into a more popular way to get instruction and acquire a certificate or diploma in Huntsville AL. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for many students. Pertaining to tuition, many online CNA programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). So if your job and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online CNA program will make it easier to fit earning a certificate into your busy schedule.

What to Ask CNA Degree Programs

Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are numerous CNA schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other schools.

  • 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 recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you get a quality education and employment in the Huntsville AL area, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools.
  • Certification Preparation. Certification criteria for CNAs vary from state to state. For CNA certification, passing a state specific exam is required.  Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum certification standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Alabama school certification or licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Huntsville AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the CNA schools you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Huntsville AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a certified nursing assistant is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for certification also. Find out if the schools have associations with local Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.

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