06 Apr CNA Classes in Pennsylvania: A Guide
Learn what options exist for prospective Certified Nurse Aides and nursing assistants to get trained and certified in CNA classes in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Discover resources and programs to get trained by a certification program near you in PA.
Current economic conditions are very tough right now. The pandemic has not only cost many lives but also the economy has suffered as well. You may have faced a job loss yourself or have difficulty obtaining employment. You aren’t alone, and millions of people across America and in Pennsylvania are considering a career change. Entering the healthcare field as a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA), also known as a Certified Nursing Assistant, is both promising and rewarding. A career path starting as a CNA can lead to a future career in the medical field and open doors of opportunity, advancement, and pay increases. This leads to development on a personal and professional level.
The growth of CNA roles and what it takes to succeed
If you become a CNA, you will find a career field that is not only stable, but fast growing as well. In fact, right now there are literally thousands of open CNA roles available across the state of Pennsylvania on Indeed as seen here. This is particularly important during tough economic times and in light of the coronavirus pandemic the nation faces.
In addition, we will discuss a variety of career path options in the future for individuals that start their career as a CNA. Additionally, you can find out where to find CNA classes in Pennsylvania. This includes the CNA class offered by CareBridge Academy in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania region.
What is healthcare? What healthcare settings can you find CNAs?
Healthcare includes a huge variety of medical services and settings. In 2017, total spending on healthcare in the United States topped $3.5 trillion! CNAs are a huge part of healthcare in a variety of healthcare settings. They are considered a part of the direct care workforce, like home health aides and caregivers. Most CNAs assist patients with daily tasks. Certified Nurse Aides are able to offer limited medical care services too. This may include rehabilitation services and exercise assistance after patient surgeries, among others. Certified Nurse Aides, or CNAs, are a part of the overall healthcare team that includes a variety of professional roles such as nurses, therapists, and doctors. They work directly under the supervision of a licensed nurse. This is exactly why they are referred to as nursing assistants or nurse aides. They act as an extension of the nurse, and are the eyes and ears of the nurse. This is because CNAs tend to have more direct contact and hands-on care with patients and residents alike.
The majority of CNAs work primarily in long term care settings. However, a large number of CNAs can and do work in a variety of medical settings. As an example, CNAs can find career opportunities and jobs available in:
- Assisted living facilities
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Residential care facilities
- Home care and home healthcare agencies
Is the healthcare field growing in the United States and here in Pennsylvania?
Healthcare is such a fast growing industry in part due to an aging American population. Healthcare spending will continue to increase and so will the jobs available in the industry. The growth in the medical field will grow a projected 15 percent between 2019 and 2029. If you are considering a CNA career now and a shift to new positions in healthcare in the future, this is an important statistic to consider.
Demand for healthcare services will continue to grow as the baby boomer population gets older. We outline the impressive growth of the industry below. As you will learn, the aging population in and around Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia is especially large as a state and region which drives up demand locally.
Unemployment and job losses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The pandemic has been devastating to the job market in the United States. The city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania have been hit particularly hard. Consider these statistics:
- Pennsylvania state has an unemployment rate that exceeds that of the national rate. The overall unemployment rate in the state is 8.1 percent compared to the national average of 6.9 percent.
- Philadelphia has an overall unemployment rate of 11.7 percent as of September 2020. This equals more than one out of seven individuals in the city that face unemployment.
Some industries have been hit harder than others. For example, jobs in the retail, restaurant, tourism, and other service industry sectors have faced the greatest job losses. This can be seen across the country as well as in the state of Pennsylvania as a whole. This job destruction has led to employees facing economic or career uncertainty to consider other career paths. The healthcare industry has been one of the most resilient. The unemployment rate in the medical field reflects that, and is nearly 40 percent lower than the overall unemployment rate. A healthcare career can lead to not only a stable career but one filled with many opportunities. Importantly, many healthcare workers find their contributions to be both fulfilling and rewarding.
What is the career outlook for CNAs and nursing assistants?
A new CNA to the field will engage in satisfying work and acquire valuable experience and skills in this entry level healthcare role. Plus, starting as a CNA can eventually open many doors of advancement in the future. It can lead to all sorts of advanced healthcare roles and occupations. Many CNA’s climb the career and educational ladder over time. For example, they may become nurses, doctors, or therapists with time and through pursuing additional education and certifications.
A career as a CNA is projected to grow much faster in comparison to other occupations in America. The bureau of labor statistics projects an 8 percent increase in all CNA jobs in America through 2028. Overall, there is projected to be only a 5 percent increase in all professions as a whole. Keep in mind this figure also only includes future jobs to be added. This does not take into account the thousands of currently unfilled CNA jobs across Pennsylvania!
A CNA taking a career path in certain settings may see even greater growth. For example, in the same projection, you will see that a CNA career in the sector of “Home health and personal care aides; and nursing assistants, orderlies, and psychiatric aide” jobs reflects much greater growth with a 25 percent projected increase over time.
The direct care workforce, including Certified Nurse Aides, in Pennsylvania
Interestingly, the future growth of CNAS is even more widespread in Pennsylvania and cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Statistics shared by the LTCC Blueprint for Strengthening Pennsylvania’s Direct Care Workforce reflect this fact. The report demonstrates how large the direct care workforce is now in Pennsylvania. It also outlines what the future looks like for these careers. It help readers understand why local healthcare demand is growing so rapidly:
- Today, there are currently over 219,000 direct care workers in the state of Pennsylvania
- The top three direct care worker roles include CNAs, home health aides, and personal care aides/caregivers
- More than 37,000 direct care workers will be needed across Pennsylvania by 2026
- Pennsylvania is home to the fifth oldest population in the United States. Older adults and seniors are the most likely to use all healthcare services including those provided by CNAs who disproportionately work in nursing homes
- By the year 2030, the population of older adults will increase by 26 percent in the state
- Pennsylvania also has many disabled residents. Nearly one out of seven individuals in Pennsylvania has a disability.
- Disabled residents are another major category of individuals most likely to receive healthcare services by a CNA. Overall, Pennsylvania has the fifth largest percentage of disabled residents in the nation at 14 percent.
CNA Careers and Job Duties
Certified Nurse Aide and nursing assistant scope of practice
Scope of practice is a legal term assigned to licensed health professionals. CNAs are not classified as licensed health professionals. Rather, they are considered unlicensed medical personnel. They are certified and put on a state registry after completing a CNA class and passing a test, but this is different from licensure. Therefore, CNAs do not have a scope of practice. However, they do have outlined job responsibilities and professional standards that they must comply with. CNAs are trained to provide personal care and a basic level of regulated medical care to manage one’s care needs. They help to optimize the quality of life for seniors and disabled adults. With no regulated scope of practice, many states recognize the Code of Federal Regulations (found here) as the unofficial CNA scope of practice. This is true within Pennsylvania as well. In Pennsylvania, CNA classes are regulated by the PA Department of Education.
CNA regulations help guide and direct care-based decisions for residents in nursing facilities and other healthcare settings. Organizations that employ Certified Nurse Aides follow the code to ensure that they meet regulations and are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. Plus, the same regulations help guide CNA training and outline workplace duties. In particular, the 42 CFR x 483 suggests that CNAs must be trained in how to provide basic nursing care and skills as listed below.
What does a CNA do?
The primary job functions and responsibilities of the nursing assistant may vary somewhat from position to position. It depends on what care setting that a CNA is working in. On top of that, it depends on the physical and mental health of the clients that they work with. Overall, there are five main CNA duties and responsibilities that most CNA occupations will require:
- CNAs provide aid and assistance with a client’s activities of daily living, or ADLs.
- Responsibilities of a CNA usually involve simple meal preparations, handing out food trays, evaluating each client’s food and drink intake over the course of a meal, and light housekeeping.
- CNAs usually are expected to measure and monitor a care recipient’s vital signs. Examples include taking one’s pulse, blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature readings.
- Regular checkups on clients and residents. This might include responding to call bells, documenting patient condition changes, and reporting any changes immediately to the supervising nurse.
- CNAs may also assist with certain medical procedures. Additionally, they may be expected to set up, clean, or takedown medical equipment.
CNAs may perform additional tasks that vary from those listed above. This could be because of a specific population or condition that the healthcare setting specializes in, or because the organization they work in offers advanced specialty training to their CNAs which allows expanded duties.
What do CNAs make in hourly pay and salary?
Overall, the median annual salary for CNAs is $32,366 per year. This comes to $15.56 per hour in earnings.
In Pennsylvania state, CNA salaries are comparable to the nationwide median. They average $32,302 per year, or $15.53 per hour in earnings and compensation.
Additionally, in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas (the tri-state area which includes parts of Delaware and New Jersey as well), the average wage is $34,671. This averages out to $16.67 per hour of work.
CNA Classes for Training and Certification
How do I get trained to be a CNA?
To get trained as a nursing assistant, interested candidates must complete an approved CNA class. Training requirements are set out by federal and state requirements for Certified Nurse Aides. CNA classes and training courses are offered by community colleges and private schools. Some long term care facilities and workforce development programs may also offer a CNA program.
What does the student learn in a CNA class?
A Certified Nurse Aide student in training will learn many essential tasks and skills necessary for a CNA to be successful in the field. At CareBridge Academy in Philadelphia, the CNA training program includes the following topics learned which are the foundation of Certified Nurse Aide training. The topics include:
- Infection control
- CNA role and function
- Client’s rights
- Safety and emergencies
- Client’s independence
- The client’s environment
- Behavioral health and social service needs
- Personal care skills
- Restorative care
- Caring for cognitively impared clients
- Identifying and reporting the conditions of body systems
Overall, the CNA class covers many topics. The class curriculum helps ensure success in the various healthcare roles that nursing assistants work in.
How long is a CNA class?
A Certified Nurse Aide class that leads to certification must meet Pennsylvania state regulations. That means that a CNA class must total at least 80 hours of instruction. However, Pennsylvania also targets a model curriculum recommended for approved CNA classes which equals 120 total hours in length. The majority of CNA classes, including that at CareBridge Academy, range from 110 hours to 135 hours of instruction in Pennsylvania.
Due to the variety of topics covered, the 120 hour class is an excellent option for CNAs to be successful in their future healthcare career. All CNA classes must include time spent working hands-on with residents of a long term care facility. Of this 120 hour class, 55 total hours are done in a clinical setting. This means that CNA students will work one-on-one with real residents and clients of a nursing home setting under the instruction of the nurse trainer.
Can the CNA class be completed online?
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania state regulations do not allow any portion of the CNA class to be completed online. All class instruction must be done in person with the nurse trainer.
How much does the CNA class cost?
The cost of the CNA class may vary. CareBridge Academy’s CNA class is very reasonable, costing just $1395. The class is taken right here in Philadelphia. A CNA program can also be taken with other approved CNA programs across the state of Pennsylvania. You can find this information on the PA Department of Education’s Nurse Aide Training Program page.
Can I take CNA classes for free?
Yes you can! CNA classes are free for graduates under the following conditions.
If you obtain employment by a Medicaid participating nursing home facility, you are entitled to the reimbursement cost paid by the student for the CNA class. The vast majority of nursing homes are Medicaid participating facilities, but we recommend that you confirm this directly with the long term care facility. Reimbursement for money paid to the CNA class also includes the testing fees as well. Currently, those fees are $102. To obtain full reimbursement and make your training free, the CNA must:
- Complete and graduate from a state-approved CNA class. CareBridge Academy’s class qualifies under these regulations.
- Have a passing score on their written and manual certification exam
- Be employed in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility within 12 months of certification
- Successfully pass a criminal background check as a condition of employment
In summary, when CNAs meet these conditions, they will get reimbursed for the full cost of the CNA class ($1395 at CareBridge Academy), plus the cost of the test which leads to certification ($102). This means that the full cost of the training is free, with the exception of any other training related materials or costs (if any).
CareBridge Academy offers its quality CNA classes in the greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania region. CareBridge Academy started its CNA classes because it found a lack of affordable and comprehensive training classes available in Philadelphia. Additionally, with the CareBridge Academy class, courses are offered regularly and flexibly with a variety of options and start dates. For example, this includes day, night, weekend, and part-time CNA classes that are offered.
Benefits of the CareBridge Academy CNA class
The CareBridge Academy CNA classes offered are the best of both worlds. On one hand, it’s CNA classes are inexpensive. Plus, the CNA certification obtained is very flexible. It is not restricted to just one company or one healthcare setting. As we discussed, CNAs can and do work in a variety of different healthcare settings. The CNA certification attained will be valid across the state of Pennsylvania as well. Finally, if a CNA moves out of state, those individuals can apply for CNA reciprocity in another state to obtain their certification elsewhere.