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How To Become A CNA Instructor

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By: Portia Wofford

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) hold a very valuable place in the healthcare industry. Not only does the CNA assist nurses, in patient care, but the role the CNA plays is integral in advocacy and continuity of care. Often, it is the CNA who initially notices a patient’s change in condition and alerts the nurse.

Projected Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected increase for job opportunities for CNAs is to be as much as 20% by 2020–well above the national average. Approximately 300,000 jobs are set to be created. The high demand for CNAs is fueling the need for qualified instructors. Competent and enthusiastic CNA instructors are needed, to ensure that students are entering the world of patient care as qualified, knowledgeable, and skilled–as many choose to use their CNA certification as a stepping stone or introduction to becoming a nurse. The instructor handles providing CNA students with the necessary tools that will help them succeed in a healthcare environment. CNA instructors must have the proper experience and knowledge to prepare their students for the demands and requirements of the job.

Fact check: Did you know that before 1987 only a handful of states required training of nurses’ aides?

Federal regulations now require CNA training be performed by, or under the general supervision of, a registered nurse who has a minimum of 2 years of nursing experience. At least one of the two years must be long-term care nursing experience. This means that in all states the program administrator, director, or coordinator must be a RN. Can LPNs become instructors? Of course! Most states allow LPNs to become instructors. The requirements for instructors vary by state, but generally, the instructor must have a year’s experience as a nurse. Nurses who have an inactive license or whose licenses are not in good standing, may not be permitted to instruct. All states require that instructors have active, unrestricted licenses.

Train the Trainer

Many states require that prospective instructors pass their state’s state-approved instructor training course. This course is also known as a “train the trainer course” and may be offered by technical schools, community colleges, universities, or nursing facilities. It prepares aspiring CNA instructors for their role. Your state’s board of nursing or department of health or aging services can provide you with a list of approved training sites. It is important to note, that not all states require a train the trainer course, some only require the federally mandated requirements:

  • History in teaching adults
  • Course in adult teaching (THT), or
  • Experience in supervising nurse aides.

Some states, like Georgia, require the federally mandated requirements and the train the trainer course.

What does a CNA Instructor do?

As an instructor, you will be responsible for teaching classes in nursing fundamentals and clinical practice. You will also train students to do daily tasks such as bed making and obtaining vital signs, as well as observe and record your students as they practice clinical skills like,

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Feeding
  • Toileting
  • Hygiene

As your students rotate to their clinical sites, it will be your responsibility to supervise their skills to ensure they are utilizing safe practices. Along with overseeing these skills, you will review the student’s progress and give feedback with the ultimate goal of preparing them pass the CNA exam.

What’s Next?

While many CNA instructors are content with teaching a course, some are seeing the benefits of owning and/or operating their own CNA/Nurse Aide training program. Each state has its own set of requirements, but with proper planning and guidance an aspiring owner can have a successful program. The CNA Instructor Consultants assist aspiring owners in preparing their state application for their nurse aide training program; developing a business plan; and creating a curriculum.

About the author:

Portia Wofford is a nurse, millennial strategist, healthcare writer, entrepreneur, and micro-influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for career development–while providing organizations with tools to close generational gaps within their nursing staff. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.