The Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is a critical member of healthcare teams everywhere. These individuals work hands-on with patients to administer the important and sometimes lifesaving care that patients need. For many nurses, becoming a CNA is a key step in their healthcare career, whether they plan to stay a CNA for the long-term or use it as a stepping stone into another specialty or toward becoming a Registered Nurse (RN).
Are you a recent graduate of a nursing program in Louisiana, or are you considering entering one soon? You might be wondering about the CNA career path. Like other healthcare careers, there are a multitude of steps involved in becoming a CNA – you’ll need to attend schooling, have the proper prerequisites, and pass your state exams to become certified and start working. But don’t worry – our CNA employment agency is here to explain it all and help you on your journey toward becoming a CNA in Louisiana.
Let’s break down what a CNA is and what they do, where they work, how much they make, and how to become a CNA to launch your career as a nurse assistant.
What is a CNA?
A CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) is a healthcare worker who provides personal care to patients in a variety of settings. In many cases, a CNA works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN). CNAs are responsible for the direct care of patients, clients, or residents – to put it simply, they take care of everything that a patient might need.
Note that while “Certified Nursing Assistant” is the common term for this type of nurse, the profession goes by a variety of other names as well. You might hear certain hospitals or healthcare organizations refer to CNAs as nurse aides, patient care assistants (PCAs), and other designations. No matter the terminology, this type of nurse has the same kind of responsibilities in a healthcare team: hands-on patient care to keep people comfortable and safe.
What Does a CNA Do?
CNAs play a crucial role in helping a healthcare team run smoothly. And while the exact responsibilities of the role may vary depending on factors like where the CNA works, the patients or residents they’re caring for, and their scope of care, general tasks that a CNA performs include things like:
- Answering patient calls/bells
- Obtaining vital signs
- Helping with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – eating, bathing, shaving, using the bathroom, etc.
- Measuring and recording food and liquid intake
- Turning or repositioning patients
- Cleaning rooms and linens
- Dressing wounds
- Assisting with medical procedures
- Communicating with other team members about patient care
- Documenting information
- Stocking supplies
Note that CNA duties are determined by an individual state’s Board of Nursing or another governing body, so your exact duties as a CNA will depend on where you choose to work. In Louisiana, CNAs can expect to perform most if not all the duties listed above, depending on what kind of facility they work in.
Where Do CNAs Work?
Like other types of nurses, CNAs can work in a wide variety of settings. These include:
- Inpatient hospital settings
- Long-term residential facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Rehabilitation centers
- Adult daycare centers
- Nursing homes
- Hospice centers
- Private homes (home healthcare)
CNAs are rarely employed in outpatient office or clinic settings, although it is possible.
How Much Does a CNA Make in Louisiana?
According to carelistings.com, the average hourly wage for CNAs in Louisiana in 2021 was $13.81, or about $28,700 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts the median annual wage for nursing assistants at $30,310 in May of 2021. According to the BLS’s data, nursing assistants working in hospital settings and government programs made the most ($35,870 and $37,310 a year, respectively), as compared to those working in nursing care facilities, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and in home healthcare settings.
Keep in mind that these are only median numbers. A CNA always has a chance to earn more as they grow in experience, seniority, and skill. Many CNAs go on to attend continuing education courses and learn new specializations in their nursing careers. And that always gives a nurse the opportunity to command a higher salary or hourly wage.
How Can I Become a CNA in Louisiana?
Interested in becoming a CNA in Louisiana? The first step is to choose a state-certified training program. These programs are offered at a variety of facilities including community colleges, vocational schools, as well as some medical facilities, across the state. Admissions requirements for most programs include having a high school diploma or GED, passing a physical exam and tuberculosis test, and passing a criminal background check.
It’s important to make several considerations when choosing the program that is right for you, including:
In Louisiana, a CNA training program must include 40 hours of classroom instruction, 4 hours of orientation to the clinical training site, and 40 hours of on-site clinical training. Most CNA programs take a total of 4 to 12 weeks to complete, including the clinical hours. It’s one of the great things about embarking on a CNA career – you don’t need to go to years of schooling to get started. Many nurses can become certified and start their nursing assistant career in only a few months.
It’s always important to factor in cost when you’re thinking about joining a CNA program. The cost varies depending on the school and the program curriculum, so you’ll want to find out specifics during your research. Be sure to factor in additional costs like supplies, textbooks, state testing fees, and room and board if applicable.
Although clinical training must be completed on-site, many schools offer an online version of the classroom instruction portion. If you work another job or have family obligations, choosing a program with an online component can be very helpful.
Once you’ve completed all classroom and clinical hours in a state-approved CNA program, you’ll need to take and pass Louisiana’s competency exam to become certified. Once you’ve passed, you’ll be a Certified Nursing Assistant and can start working as a CNA!
The Louisiana Department of Health offers a list of approved training programs in the state that meet their standards. You can also learn more about the CNA certification requirements for Louisiana here.
What is the Job Outlook for CNAs in Louisiana?
The job outlook for CNA jobs in Louisiana – and around the country – is good. The BLS projects 9% growth in this field through 2028, which is higher than the 5% growth projected for most occupations. More than 135,000 new CNAs will be needed to fill critical positions over the coming years.
In Louisiana, the number of CNAs needed is expected to grow even faster than the national average, increasing by nearly 20%, according to findcnaclasses.com. Part of this growth is due to the aging population – as Baby Boomers get older and retire, they need more healthcare. And the generation below them is getting older, too, increasing the need for nursing care among those aged 45 to 65 or so. In Louisiana, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other types of facilities that employ CNAs can expect to need more nursing assistants in the coming years, especially in larger cities like Baton Rouge and Shreveport.
Find CNA Jobs in Louisiana Today
If you’re looking for a CNA job, why not do it with the help of an experienced CNA employment agency in Louisiana? Horizon Healthcare Management specializes in healthcare staffing and recruitment in the state – whether you’re already a CNA and you’re looking for your next great opportunity or you’ve recently graduated and are ready to break into the field, our dedicated recruiters can help.
Horizon Healthcare Management offers temporary, per diem, locum tenens, and permanent roles for the candidates we serve. Take advantage of our extensive network of healthcare employers in Louisiana – browse our open roles and contact our recruitment team to learn more about how we can help you on your journey to become a CNA.