Upskilling CNAs to Enhance Career Opportunities and Patient Care

The nursing shortage in the United States has been a key topic in the news lately, impacting both the healthcare industry and other sectors. This shortage is primarily driven by high levels of stress and burnout among nurses, as well as a wave of retirements.

The news about educating and training new nurses isn’t much better. The current student pipeline of nurses isn’t enough to offset the number of nurses leaving the profession either. However, many stakeholders in healthcare are working on solutions to attract and upskill new nursing professionals. 

Upskilling certified nursing assistants (CNAs) is one option that can potentially alleviate the nursing shortage over the next decade. By supporting additional certifications and continuing education, employers can help CNAs enhance their careers and give them more growth opportunities in nursing and beyond. 

This blog post will take a look at the vital role of CNAs in healthcare as well as the benefits and opportunities for upskilling CNAs. We’ll also cover how Supplemental Health Care is supporting CNAs in their careers and creating workforce solutions for the nursing shortage.

Top Benefits of Upskilling CNAs

There’s a benefit to upskilling in every profession, but in the healthcare industry, this is particularly relevant and necessary. And it’s not only beneficial to the individual. Upskilling also impacts staffing retention and patient care, which supports the healthcare system as a whole.

  • Career advancement: Gaining new skills and certifications allows CNAs to move forward in their careers in healthcare. Whether that means more job options, career advancement, or higher salaries, having the skills and certifications necessary to move up the career ladder is beneficial to the individual and the workplace.
  • Improved patient care and outcomes: Greater skills almost always lead to improved efficiency, which then translates to better patient care, streamlined processes, and a reduction in errors. Upskilling for CNAs includes learning new skills, techniques, and technologies that enhance their ability to give their patients the best care possible. 
  • Increased job satisfaction and retention: Having new skills, improving efficiency, and opening up opportunities for career advancement all contribute to better job satisfaction for every individual. Healthcare is one of the most demanding fields in the United States, especially when it comes to mental health. Improved mental health and job satisfaction lead to better retention, helping to alleviate the pressure of nationwide staffing shortages. 

The Role of CNAs in Healthcare

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is primarily responsible for helping patients directly with their healthcare needs. They are usually under the supervision of a nurse, and they might also be called a nursing assistant, nurse’s aide, or patient care assistant. Their responsibilities can include:

  • Gathering medical supplies
  • Supporting patients with hygiene
  • Documenting information
  • Stocking supplies
  • Checking patients’ vital signs
  • Transporting patients
  • Caring for wounds

CNAs can work at hospitals, long-term residential facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and adult daycare centers. The demand for CNAs is high across the board. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million CNA positions open across the nation, and that number is expected to increase by five percent in the next decade. 

CNA Career Advancement

  • CNA 1 to CNA 2 certification: The main difference between having a CNA 1 and CNA 2 certification is the specialized skills learned. CNA 1s are experts at fundamental skills in patient care, while CNA 2s often have specific areas in which they are considered specialized. 
  • Home Health Aide (HHA): Home health aides (HHAs) are trained to support patients who live independently at home but who might need assistance with daily activities or other responsibilities. 
  • Patient Care Technician (PCT): Patient care technicians, or PCTs, are primarily responsible for assisting patients in face-to-face interactions, aiding with daily tasks such as helping patients in and out of bed, checking vital signs, tracking patient care, and so on.
  • Critical Care Technicians: As suggested by the name, critical care technicians help care for critically injured or ill patients, particularly outside of the hospital. They arrive on the scene to help in emergency situations, assess patients’ conditions, and provide medical aid. 
  • Qualified Medication Aide (QMA): Qualified medication aids are CNAs who have completed additional training to give them the skills and knowledge necessary to administer medication to patients or support them in self-administration. 
  • Nursing (LPN or RN): Moving from a nursing assistant to a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) license means leveling up your skills as well as opening the door to management positions within a healthcare facility. RNs and LPNs supervise CNAs and instruct them in patient care. 
  • Paraprofessional: Paraprofessionals are specially trained and certified to assist teachers and students in the classroom. CNAs are able to get a certification to work in the classroom if they’re interested in a career in schools. They play an essential role in supporting the school’s staff and helping increase and maintain a safe learning environment for all types of students. 

CNA Opportunities at Supplemental Health Care

Through Supplemental Health Care’s Impact division, our team has been working on upskilling initiatives to help CNAs obtain their CNA 2 certification or pursue a school career with a paraprofessional certification. SHC is excited to explore more upskilling possibilities as these partnerships continue to develop across the healthcare industry.

As a leading healthcare staffing partner, SHC has almost 40 years of experience in connecting passionate healthcare and school professionals with our dedicated client partners. SHC’s unmatched service works for our clients as well as our staff.

Our team provides better outcomes for attracting the best talent, supporting their careers, and retaining them. When it comes to staffing solutions, we have decades of experience and a commitment to supporting our clients throughout the process. Contact our team to get started with Supplemental Health Care as your partner in patient care.

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