Home-based healthcare is a growing job market for professional caregivers. If you are comfortable performing intimate tasks for people in need, then you may want to consider a career as a Home Health Aide, Certified Nurse Aide, or Registered Nurse. Training and certification requirements will depend on which path you choose and where you get certified.

Becoming a Home Health Aide (HHA)

Home Health Aides provided basic personal care to patients, which may include assisting with hygiene, dressing, preparing meals, housekeeping, and transportation. In some cases, HAAs may also provide limited medical assistance, like administering medications, dressing wounds, as well as checking vital signs under the supervision of a nurse.

In the United States, certification requirements for Home Health Aides include 75-180 hours of classroom training and 16-80 hours of clinical training, depending on the state. You may be able to receive free training, so check with your local labor agency.

Becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)

Certified Nurse Assistants often have more contact with their patients than anyone else on a caregiving staff. Like Home Health Aides, CNAs also help patients with feeding, bathing, and dressing. CNAs may also listen to their patients’ health concerns, note symptoms and changing conditions, as well as report information to supervising doctors and nurses—so communication skills are key.

Before entering a certification program, you must have a High School Diploma or GED. Certified Nurse Assistants must complete at least 75 hours of training, as well as pass an examination. Contact your state nurse aide registry or licensing board to find out more information.

Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered Nurses can work in a wide variety of facilities, and should be prepared to supervise Home Health Aides, Certified Nurse Assistants, and even less experienced RNs. Registered nurses may perform health assessments, make health recommendations to patients, and execute medical regimens as prescribed by a licensed physician.

Registered nurses must graduate with at least an associate degree in nursing. You may choose to pursue additional credentials through a bachelor or master of science degree in nursing. Upon completion of an accredited training program, an RN must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Where to Get Trained

Training programs for Home Health Aides and Certified Nurse Assistants may be offered by the American Red Cross, community colleges, technical and vocational schools, online training programs, as well as local health care providers.

Registered Nurses must train at a college, university, or in-hospital training program.

Things to Remember

  • Make sure the training program you choose is accredited by checking with the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
  • Learn about local certification requirements through your city or state health department.
  • Find out about free training through your city or state labor department.

by Joey Azoulai

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