Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a fundamental role in the healthcare industry. The field is growing rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% growth for employment in the nursing assistant field between years 2016 and 2026-well above the growth for most professions. Becoming a CNA is an affordable and fast way to start a promising career in healthcare.
CNAs have more personal contact with patients than any other clinician and act as intermediaries between patients and registered nurses and physicians. CNAs dedicate themselves to caring for recovering, elderly and disabled individuals. They assist patients with their daily activities such as personal care, preparation of meals, motion and positioning, and changing of bedsheets.
Nursing assistants provide compassionate bedside care to multiple patients in various settings. Typical work settings for CNAs include long-term residential facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but they can also be found in many inpatient hospital settings.
The first consideration of prospective CNA students should be where to obtain the best CNA education. To choose a top CNA training program, it´s important to do research and find out as much information as possible about the prospective academic program and college, including the following:
The Minnesota Department of Health regulates the training, examination, and certification of future Certified Nursing Assistants. Those interested in the field are offered the possibility of pursuing a dual credential via enrollment in a combined Nurse Aide/ Home Health Aide (NA/HHA) training program.
Minnesota has five different curriculums that are state approved and comply with federal regulations. The curriculums of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU), the American Red Cross (ARC), the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Minnesota's Leading Age Foundation all require at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which should be used for clinical training in a licensed nursing facility. The Health Care Core curriculum requires a minimum of 128 training hours.
After successfully completing the CNA training, candidates are then permitted to sit for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) which is administered via Pearson VUE. The NNAAP exam evaluates basic clinical skills and essential knowledge. For the skills section, the student is tested on five typical nurse aide duties, one of which is to measure and record vital signs. For the knowledge section, the student will have to answer correctly a certain number of multiple-choice questions in either a written or oral fashion. The fee Pearson VUE charges for the examination is $64 for the full examination, $42 for retaking the written or oral part of the exam, and $22 for retaking the skills section. Students have three attempts to pass the test without completing the training again.
CNA candidates who opted for the combined NA/HHA program will need to complete another assessment in addition to the NNAAP. While the skills sections are similar for both exams, the multiple-choice test is different.
First charted in 2003, when Fergus Falls Community College and the three Northwest Technical College campuses merged, Minnesota State Community and Technical College is a post-secondary educational institution that operates campuses in Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, Fergus Falls, and Wadena. The school awards over $200,000 in scholarships each year. MSC&TC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system.
MSC&TC’s CNA program is conducted at the Moorhead Campus. The CNA program totals 77 hours—55 hours of classroom and lab instruction, 2 hours of clinical orientation and 20 hours of clinical instruction and skills practice and assessment. The program places its focus primarily on teaching students basic nursing skills, concepts of basic human needs and how to assist residents with daily activities and routines. Attendance is mandatory in order to successfully complete the program.
Students who wish to attend MSC&TC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $495 plus $160 for the state competency evaluation.
Located in Rosemount, a suburb of the Minneapolis metropolitan area, Dakota County Technical College is a two-year technical college that was established in 1970. DCTC is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and is only one of five technical colleges in Minnesota.
DCTC’s 5-credit Certified Nursing Assistant program seeks to prepare its students to assist the geriatric population, in-home care patients, and patients in a hospital setting with any personal care needs they may have. The program uniquely combines both nursing assistant curriculum with home health aide content. Students can take DCTC’s CNA course during the daytime or the evening, at the Rosemount campus.
Students who wish to attend DCTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $1,085.
First established in 1997, Minnesota West Community and Technical College is both a technical and community college that boasts campuses in five cities in the southwestern region of the state: Granite Falls, Jackson, Canby, Worthington, and Pipestone. The college also has satellite learning centers in Marshall, Redwood Falls, and Luvern.
MWC&TC’s 3-credit Certified Nursing Assistant program is conducted at the Pipestone campus. The course is designed to ready students for direct healthcare jobs in a wide variety of healthcare facilities. During the course, instructors cover topics such as caring for special patient populations, care of infants, reporting protocol and hospice care.
Students who wish to attend MWC&TC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $663 plus the State Nurse Aide test fee of $180 following the end of instruction and training.
First founded 1996, Ridgewater College is a technical and community college with campuses in the cities of Willmar and Hutchinson. RC represents one of the member colleges of the Minnesota State College and University System.
RC’s 3-credit hour Certified Nursing Assistant course is offered through the college’s Customized Training and Continuing Education program. Both Willmar and Hutchinson campuses offer the CNA program, which is approved by the Minnesota Department of Health. During this course, students learn topics including client’s rights, ethical issues to consider, and responsibilities nursing assistants must adhere to. Following the in-class lecture portion of this class, a student’s knowledge will be tested and evaluated in a supervised lab and long-term healthcare setting.
For both in-state and out-of-state residents thinking about attending Ridgewater’s CNA program, tuition is around $1,451 plus additional fees.
Normandale Community College is a post-secondary educational institution that was first established under the name Normandale State Junior College in 1968. NCC is located in Bloomingdale and serves communities in the southwest region of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area.
The 4-credit hour CNA program at Normandale Community College (NURS 1057 and NURS 1060) seeks to ready its students to take and pass the Minnesota Nursing Assistant Registry exam. Unlike most programs in the state, CC’s CNA program integrates both certified nursing assistant content with home health aide material. During the program, students will learn how to perform crucial nursing assistant tasks like measuring vital signs, assisting patients with their personal hygiene, and more. Additionally, the program imparts knowledge to students that will help them address any spiritual, psychosocial or emotional needs of patients that they encounter. Generally, the CNA student’s week will look something like this: 2 hours of lecture, 3 hours of lab practice and 3 hours of clinical instruction. At the end of the program, students will be required to apply what they have learned during the instruction portion of the class during 24 hours of clinical training on-site at a local healthcare facility.
Students who wish to attend NCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $1,100. Included in this price is tuition, a uniform, a lab supply kit and tuition.
St. Cloud Technical and Community College was originally founded in 1948 as the 2nd technical college in the entire state. Located in St. Cloud, SCT&CC represents one of the fastest growing community and technical colleges in the Minnesota state system.
SCT&CC’s 3-credit Certified Nursing Assistant program introduces a wide variety of concepts that are pertinent to the nursing assistant student. The lecture portion of the program places a special emphasis on concepts regarding the basic human needs of the geriatric population. Aside from the in-class lecture portion of the class, there is also a supervised laboratory section and a clinical skills training section. SCT&CC’s CNA program meets both state and federal standards.
Both in-state and out-of-state students who wish to attend NCC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $537 plus additional fees.
Northland Community & Technical College is a public higher learning institution with campuses in Thief River Falls and East Grand Forks. In total, the college has approximately 4,000 full and part-time attendees.
NC&TC’s 3-credit Certified Nursing Assistant course (HLTH-1110) introduces concepts regarding basic human needs. During the course, students will focus mainly on learning to help geriatric residents with their daily living activities. A special emphasis is placed on the principles of body mechanics. The CNA program at NC&TC is conducted at their Thief River Falls campus.
Students who wish to attend NC&TC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $723 plus additional fees.
Founded in 1961, Alexandria Technical and Community College, located in Alexandria, is a 2-year community college and part of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system.
AT&CC’s 3-credit, 84 contact hour Nursing Assistant & Home Health Aide program curriculum looks to teach students to develop the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge that’s crucial to providing compassionate, direct care for patients in a long-term nursing facility, or as a home health aide. AT&CC’s CNA program meets both state and federal standards. During this program, students receive a mixture of in-class, didactic lecture, lab instruction, and clinical skills practice.
Students who wish to attend AT&CC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program can expect to pay around $540 plus additional fees.