Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), along with their RN colleagues, are the healthcare workers who interact directly and most frequently with patients. Together, the two provide around 85% of direct patient care. It's for the reason that CNAs, along with RNs, are often referred to as ‘the backbone' of the medicine.
Typically, CNAs earn around $20,000 annually. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that through 2022, job growth in the CNA sector will rise by 21%. With that in mind, now is perhaps a better time than any to begin a career as a CNA.
If you're thinking of pursuing a career as a CNA, you should pursue the top programs that are available in the state. It's recommended to take the following into consideration:
The very first step that any prospective CNA should take is to seek out and enroll in a state-approved CNA program. To be considered state-approved, the program must be comprised of at least 75 total instruction hours. A list of these programs can be found on the South Dakota Board of Nursing website.
Nursing students are permitted to apply for CNA training waivers given that they have already completed the fundamentals of their nursing coursework with passing grades. Students who have been approved for the training waiver are still required to pass the CNA exam before they're licensed. Individuals who have already been granted RN or LPN licensure can be exempted from CNA training and state assessment requirements.
When the above requirements have been met, the next step is to take and pass the state competency assessment. The assessment is composed of two district evaluations-knowledge and skills. The knowledge portion of the exam can be administered in either a written or oral format. To pass, CNA candidates will need to have a score of at least 75%. The second portion of the exam is the skills assessment. Here, students will be tested on five nursing assistant duties in a simulated environment. Again, candidates must score at least 75% to pass this part of the test. In the case that a candidate fails one of the tests, he/she will only be required to retake that portion.
Located in Watertown, in the eastern region of the state, Lake Area Technical Institute is a post-secondary educational institution that was first chartered in 1965 as the state’s very first technical school. The school also maintains campuses in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Rapid City. LATI is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It offers more than 29 degree and certificate programs and enrolls over 2,500 full time students.
LATI’s newly created online-hybrid CNA program allows students to carry out the required 40-hour theory portion of the course online. After students have successfully completed this part of the course, it’s their responsibility to find a local healthcare facility to conduct their 35 hours of lab and clinical requirements. Most students who are enrolled in LATI’s CNA program will fulfill these requirements at Jenkins Living Center in Watertown.
The cost to enroll in LATI’s CNA program is approximately $381. NOTE: This doesn’t include the course textbook, the cost of the clinical externship or the certification exam.
First established in 1968, Southeastern Technical College is a public college that’s situated in the city of Sioux Falls. STC enrolls about 1,345 undergraduate students annually and has continually ranked among the top community colleges in the nation by a wide variety of rating agencies.
STC’s 3-credit CNA certificate program is made up of 76 total contact hours—60 hours of in-class instruction and 16 hours of clinical skills experience. The course seeks to impart the appropriate knowledge and skills that future CNAs will need to effectively care for geriatric patients in a long-term care setting. Additionally, the course places a special emphasis on teaching students how to adequately tend to the emotional needs of the patient.
To attend Southeastern Technical College’s CNA program, students can expect to pay around $704 plus additional fees.