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Has anyone considered or has taken a CNA (certified nursing assistant) class after your caregiving task was finished?


Background: In March 2017 I left my home in another state to move to care for Mom, who had dementia and a host of other issues. I cared for her for 13 months until she passed away in April. I wanted to take a CNA class to better care for her but I couldn't get any time away plus I was just too exhausted and burned out to concentrate. I had studied online and found the profession intriguing. While observing Mom's home health aides/nurses and then hospice aides/nurses, I truly appreciated them. I believe I benefited more from their service than Mom!


I've recovered from the exhaustion [and from the extreme mental and emotional abuse of my sisters]. I'm almost 60 but blew off my age and signed up for a CNA class that's 50 miles away. While I'm not looking forward to a 100-mile drive every day with winter approaching, I'm excited for the 3 1/2-week class.


Last week, I happened to be in a political gathering and started gabbing with one attendee who turned out to be a nurse for a county hospice service. She mentioned they needed someone for the southern half of the county--where I live--part-time, per diem only. I don't want a full-time job anyway and traveling around this fantastic county sounds perfect for me plus I can help those who may be far away from any services. [This is a BIG county--how big you ask? Five New England states can fit side by side in it.]


Note: the impetus for this thread is thanks to Ahmijoy who made a great recommendation in this thread: https://www.agingcare.com/questions/anyone-planning-to-reinvent-themselves-after-caregiving-441955.htm?orderBy=oldest


If anyone who has joined, or is considering joining, this profession, do you have any suggestions, concerns, or regrets? What was your class like? What was your favorite thing? Your least favorite thing? There's a lot I don't know and many of us may want to know. Perhaps we can help others to decide to join this profession and help others--and ourselves after what we've been through.


The technicalities of the class I signed up for is: the class is put on by my county's continuing education section, it's 3 1/2 weeks, every day, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. The last weekend is also taken up all day for practicals.


The cost was $675, but they provide all the equipment and books and the TB test and urinalysis. They also provide scholarships of $400, which they gave me one! That'll help with gas as the class is an hour's drive--one way. When the class is complete, there are testing and certification expenses of a couple hundred dollars.

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That is fantastic! Good for you. Well done!
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You have much to be proud of! What a great accomplishment!
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Got the notice from the State of my official certification! I'm now free to apply for any nursing home job!
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Moose!

You are what I call an “Earth Angel”. I took care of my dad for two years. It was heartbreaking yet rewarding also. I can’t personally do it. I get to attached to people and animals and would only grieve myself into being physically ill and emotionally distraught if I were to lose a patient.

Best of luck to you Earth Angel. And I wholeheartedly believe that your mom is shining light on you and is overwhelmingly proud of you.

Peace and Gods blessings, Merry Christmas.
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Dr. Robert, I reported you. This isn’t a financial institution or website. If you truly are a Doctor, (I don’t think so) you should know better. Shame on you.
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Moose!! Congratulations and I do hope you can find time to continue to post on AC.
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Congratulations! Enjoy your quiet holidays and good luck with your new career!
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Congratulations on passing!! The world needs more CNAs who have been in the trenches with a loved one. It's a demanding but very rewarding profession (spiritually not financially, unfortunately..lol) My only advice is that where you work can really make a difference, I loved doing home care but HATED facility work. I constantly felt guilty when at the facility that I didn't have enough time to give each resident the care they deserved. Although I was following the facility rules I just always felt like I was failing my residents because the rules weren't always in their best interests....
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Cheers to you
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Congratulations Mountain Moose. Good job.
I am currently taking a CNA class. Have clinicals in January and then I can take my tests.
I am taking the class because per speaking with an adviser several months back they had suggested that I take the class, as it looks good on the nursing school app. Along with other recommended classes, so that they take you more serious, because it is a point based system, so I took the class.
I admire your choice to be a CNA, it takes a special kind of person to do that job, and to do it with true and compassionate care.
I was a CNA several years ago . I enjoyed most parts of the job.
Best wishes to you and your new career. And btw 50 is not old :) It is just beginning.
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Hi Mountain Moose
I’m so proud of you!
Good job. Thanks for taking us along on your journey.
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Great, Moose, now enjoy the holidays without having to think about testing coming up. Enjoy the rest of the winter and stay warm.
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I passed my written test and my clinical skills! What a relief!

When I got my test date, I sequestered myself to study the textbook and tests, watch videos of the clinical skills, and practiced until I just couldn't stand it. I wasn't worried about the written test as it wasn't hard. What scared me was the skills test where I had five skills to demonstrate to an evaluator while working with a CNA candidate acting as the resident. Plus it was timed. A failure on one skill was a failure on it all and I'd have to do the reschedule skills test (and pay for it) all over again.

The facility was new and terrific. The written test was held first with seven CNA candidates. The test was on computers, which was okay, but the computer screens were fixed so I couldn't adjust it closer. My reader eyeglasses were too strong for the far distance of the screen! I had to lean over the table in order get my eyes close enough to focus. Yikes. When the written test was finished, the candidate got an immediate pass/fail score. I passed.

Then we were joined by an eighth candidate who only needed to do the skills test, and we were split up into four teams of two. I was on the first team up for the skills, which relieved me as the final team couldn't do their part until 3 p.m.! They had about a five-hour wait. Since I drove an hour to get to the facility I was thinking I had no place to hang out.

My partner seemed like she wanted to get hers out of the way first (I did too), but she was in her 20s so I thought I'd let her go first. This way I could also observe her. While the facility was very nice, the "stuff" we needed, wipes, clothing protectors, etc., weren't available, so we had to simulate. That really screwed me up, there was no counting on seeing a needed item and remembering to grab it.

Anyway, for my turn the skills were the two standard skills of hand washing and indirect care, and then feeding a resident, range of motion exercise on the elbow and wrist, and assisting a resident with the bedpan. The first two main skills were easy.

Horribly, at the start of the last skill my mind went blank. For all my practicing and studying I couldn't think of a thing! I finally muddled through and gathered all my equipment. Thankfully, the many times I practiced kicked in and I went on auto-pilot. The evaluator was constantly giving me the time countdown, which she needed to do but it was very distracting. I got it all done with two minutes to spare. Whew!

After my partner and I finished we waited in the hall where the next team gathered. The evaluator went away to plug in her annotations of our skills test. She made it clear SHE didn't pass or fail us but the computer software determined that. She came back and handed us our written test and skills results on folded sheets of paper for privacy. Neither my partner nor I looked at the folded papers. We just thanked her and left so we could study the papers in private. Passed both!

The paper for the written test had a breakdown of the knowledge sections of the test and how many questions from that section were on the test and the correct answers. Out of 60, I missed two; so final score of about 97.

What a relief! I have to wait for the certification from the State, which I should get in a few weeks. I won't do anything like contact a nursing home for a part-time job until March or April anyway. It's winter and I live in the mountains, and starting a new job with the possibility of missing a shift because of a blizzard or road closure is bothersome. Mainly though, 2017 and 2018 have been the worst years of my life and I'm giving myself the gift of a quiet winter to do whatever suits me.

I hope this thread helps a reader considering the CNA profession, or at least gives the reader an idea of what it takes to go through the process. All of us on this forum have worked so hard to care for our loved ones, and this experience may lead a caregiver to join the CNA ranks.
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You will do great! :)
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Finally, I received my date for the written test and the skills evaluation: Dec. 17. While I could take the written test cold, the skills evaluation has me very nervous.

Each candidate is given five skills to perform while being evaluated. I believe candidates do the skills eval two at a time, with one candidate serving as the patient. Yuck! Can't wait until that's over!
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caroli1: Thank you for your comment! I'll definitely check it out!
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Re the person who told you you would need a year of experience to be hired by a home health care agency, I believe she is mistaken. I live alone without family and have had to use home care agencies on multiple occasions, icluding within the past 2 weeks. I've used a number of different agencies. Many of the caregivers come to the agencies with no relevant experience, and probably only 1/3 of the caregivers have earned their CNA (often expired). The caregivers tell me they would need a CNA for hospital and most nursing home positions, but not for agency work. I might add that the agencies typically offer companion care as part of their offerings, but they also offer real home health care. Don't give up before you try!
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Congratulations! It’s quite an achievement! I wish you luck in your new career. Way to go, MM!
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What an achievement! So glad you were able to make this happen.
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Congrats, Moose! I am proud of you and your mom is too
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The course is finished! Sorry for the long delay in updating this thread. It's been an exhausting time of very hard work, Mondays through Fridays, and the last weekend we also worked at a nursing home an hour away for required clinical experience.

The course material wasn't that hard, but as this was a condensed course it was A LOT! The exams were easy. The class score was based on skills, tests and quizzes, class participation, homework completion; I had a 99.77. The course was an hour's drive each way--well, except the night I drove home in a white-out blizzard.

The final class night, I wore my Mom's pearl ring since she inspired me to be here. We completed the State registry paperwork and the paperwork to schedule the State test. Three agencies came in to tell us about their facility, gave us "bribe stuff" like water bottles and candy, but it was so interesting to listen how different yet similar the facilities were. The RNs were so committed to their facility and their residents. Then we celebrated with a potluck and overate. We passed around a paper with our contact information that I later scanned and emailed to the whole class if we ever wanted to follow up with each other.

We're not certified yet; we have to pass a written and a practical test (yikes!) by the State first, but that hasn't been scheduled yet. I mailed off a package to register with the State Board of Nursing containing an application, two fingerprint cards for a background check, and a cashier's check for the $120 fee. Another package was sent to Prometrics, a testing agency for the State, to give the written and skills tests along with a $115 cashier's check. It may be a few weeks before I even find out the test date and I can only hope it'll be this year! It's aggravating that the tests may be next year and wondering how to best keep my knowledge and skills intact until then.

The course was exhausting, but I learned a lot. The best part was making 12 new friends who are dedicated to making a difference for people. We started with 12 female students of all ages-ranging from 16 to 60 (me) and one male RN instructor; we finished with 11 students. That's pretty good completion rate. The prior class had 24 students and only finished 13!

The weekend, while exhausting, was amazing. The facility's CNAs and RNs took great care of its 40 residents. We students tried to help out when we could, and as we learned the facility and where things were, we got pretty good at going it alone to help out. Then Sunday afternoon during a "huddle" of all CNAs and CNA students, students were instructed to only observe and keep our assigned CNA within arm's reach.

After that the time dragged terribly and was very boring. Being a Sunday afternoon, very little was happening. At one point as I stood with the class instructor, leaned over, and whispered, "I took out the trash without supervision." He laughed and fully understood our frustration. I told him I understood why we couldn't go it alone as we weren't certified and we weren't employees, but it was still hard to just stand there or follow our CNA like a couple of baby ducks.

When the Sunday shift ended, most of us were flat exhausted, but caring for the elders was so special! Many were so appreciative and easy to care for. Driving away from the facility I felt a pull to return. I certainly understand the drive to continue the caring.

For me, I don't know what will happen next. I may do nothing after being certified. I would like to do something for others. Part-time at the most. Living in the mountains, I may not be able to get down to a facility or be able to get back home. I have no experience, and a CNA from the nursing home this past weekend stated no home health service would hire me without a year's experience. Even if a HH service would hire me, with no experience I am alone with a client and I could run into a tough circumstance and I'd be alone. She made a lot of sense.
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Wow, interesting insights. Painful memories and feelings, but look at what you've been able to do despite them. BECAUSE of them.
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The class is coming to a close. Class tonight and tomorrow, and Saturday and Sunday are two 8-hour work days at a distant nursing, then Monday's the final and very easy day. Since Mom passed in April and we held her memorial service soon after, I've been at peace with Mom's death because I'm relieved her pain--and mine--is over. I could talk of her easily without weeping.

The first day I walked into the class a few weeks ago, I walked around the large room that's our classroom. There are three hospital beds, one looked very similar to the one Mom had. I was shocked at the feelings of grief bubbling up and I had to blink back tears.

The past few days we're on the final chapter of death, hospice, signs of death, and postmortem care. So many things in the chapter matched what I saw in Mom and experienced myself. During the readings and discussion I could barely hold myself together.

I think it's been good, but shocking, to have those feelings bubble up, though it wasn't easy getting through them. It points out to me that I have to be very careful this weekend and fight to not allow weepiness to come out in front of the nursing home residents. I'm sure I'll be concentrating more on what I have to do and do it correctly though.
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Fantastic! So glad you've done so well -- congrats!
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Congratulations and don't skimp on the celebration
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I am so impressed that you found this new direction for your life, and followed through!! And congratulations on your test scores. It sounds like you are in the right place.

Good luck on the clinical skill portion.
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It's been a tough week. The worst of the hardcare studying is over. Only a few more chapters for the rest of this week. The "skills" portion has ramped up big time. There are about 30 skills, ranging from taking blood pressure to turning a resident to giving partial baths to mouth care, that have to be done correctly. Sounds easy when you're just doing for a family member, but horrifically stressful when you're being observed and judged and graded by your instructor!

Winter has set in and the heat in the building was started. Oh, joy. It's now 85 F in the room. I'm dying from the heat. With the vents blowing, I can hardly see from dry eyes. Eye drops doesn't help. Once on the way home through the mountains ended up in a white-out blizzard. The next day I stayed with some friends in the town where the class is. So nice not to have to drive so far, but, man, did I miss my two dogs!

Lots of tests and pop quizzes. So far I have a 98% average. The tests are only a small percentage of the overall grade with the skills, appropriately so, the greatest part. The textbook is very well written and illustrated. The focus of the training is almost all elder care, very little of children or young adults.

Coming up, there's classes every day as usual. This Friday is the final exam. Then, this Saturday and Sunday, we go to a local nursing home and work eight hours each day for the clinicals. While I'm looking forward to putting it all into practice, it'll be nerve-wracking and I'm sure we'll all be exhausted what with no time off. Really, when the day is over Sunday, it's all over. The final day, Monday the 22nd is filling out state registry work, listening to nursing facilities recruit us, and celebrating!
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So interesting! Sounds like quite a comprehensive course.

Drive carefully!
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Moose, my best wishes to you on this new endeavor. Sounds like you are doing great as indicated by your enthuisiam and high test score. Enjoy, learn a lot and pretty soon even that blood pressure will be second nature.
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Well, my class started Monday evening. It's been a whirlwind since, what with life and my home-based business under a sales contract. This is an condensed class, which means it's hard and fast with tons of homework every day. The stress from just trying to keep up is very high and it's exhausting. I do not recommend taking a condensed course.

There are 12 female students in the class, all ages from 16 to me at 60 (day after tomorrow), many with CNA or medical service background. The instructor is a male RN, a big, bald fierce-looking dude! I'm the oldest of the class, which doesn't bother me one bit. We break up in groups of four. If you add up the ages of the three members, I'm older than all combined! One gal is 16, another is 17, and the last is in her early 20s. Ha!

So far the course is not hard technically, it's just there's a lot, hard and fast, three chapters to read and the workbook for each chapter every day. It's like drinking out of a firehose. We already had our first exam yesterday over three chapters. The instructor emailed past midnight, I got a 98.5%!

The beginning several chapters cover technical goo like the healthcare structure, the CNA and the nursing team, legal and ethical issues, communication and diversity, infection prevention and control, safety and body mechanics.

We've had a sprinkling of "skills", hand washing, donning/doffing protective gear, and my nemesis: blood pressure. The BP video explained the procedure well, except for the actual studying the gauge to figure out the systolic and diastolic numbers. That's always been magic to me when watching a pro do it. The first number, systolic is easy; it's the diastolic number that tripping me up. Thankfully, a company just donated unused cuffs and stethoscopes so I could check out a set and practice. I can't practice on myself since the cuff is a large size, but I'll go to the bar and ask guys if I can practice. Once I "get it" it'll be easy.

Once the rush for these early chapters are finished--heck, by the end of Friday we're more than halfway through the book--and get into more skills I expect it to be easier and a lot more interesting.

The hard part is the class is an hour away. One the way home it's dark and wildlife is all over so I have to drive slower. There's a winter storm coming, but the worst will happen over the weekend. I think I'll luck out!
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