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What to Expect in CNA Classes – A Complete Guide


Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a great way to start a career in the healthcare industry. If you are considering becoming a CNA, you may be wondering what to expect in CNA programs. This overview will give you a general idea of the topics covered and the skills learned in CNA classes.

Most CNA training programs last around 12 weeks, and during that time you will learn about the role of a CNA, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, patient care, and more. You will also be required to complete clinical training in a healthcare setting so that you can get real-world experience.

CNA Class Duration

When it comes to the length of CNA programs, that will vary depending on the program. However, most programs are around four to twelve weeks long. As for the daily hours, CNA students can expect to spend about forty hours in the classroom and another forty hours in clinical practicum. Of course, this may vary depending on your school and program.

Difference Between Physical and Online Classes

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When it comes to in-person hours versus online hours, there are pros and cons to both. In-person hours allow you to learn hands-on and get one-on-one attention from your instructors. Online hours give you the flexibility to learn at your own pace and on your schedule. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which option is right for you:

In-Person Hours:

  • Can ask questions and get immediate feedback
  • Hands-on learning
  • One-on-one attention from instructors
  • Can be expensive
  • Time commitment can be difficult to manage
  • May require travel

Online Hours:

  • Flexible learning schedule
  • Affordable
  • Can learn at your own pace
  • No face-to-face interaction
  • May require self-discipline
  • Can be difficult to stay motivated

CNA Class: Coursework and Clinical Studies

Coursework and clinical studies are the two main components of CNA classes. Depending on the program, coursework may be completed online or in a traditional classroom setting. Clinical studies are always completed in person and provide students with hands-on experience working with patients.

Coursework (In-Class Learning)

Coursework typically covers topics such as human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, infection control, and nutrition. You also learn about the role of the CNA, patient rights, and how to provide personal care. In addition, you may take classes on communication and interpersonal skills, which are essential for working with patients and their families.

Clinical Studies (Clinical Learning)

Clinical studies allow you to put their knowledge into practice. You will work with patients in a hospital or clinical setting, under the supervision of a registered nurse. During this time, you will learn how to take care of patients, including bathing and dressing them, taking their vital signs, and helping them with other activities of daily living.

You will also learn how to provide basic medical care, such as giving injections and taking blood pressure. This hands-on experience is essential to becoming a successful CNA.

After you complete your CNA classes and clinical hours, you will be ready to take the state-mandated exam. Once you pass the CNA certification exam, you will be a certified nurse assistant and can start clinical practice in a healthcare setting.

Subjects that Are Taught During CNA Program

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CNA training programs cover a wide variety of topics designed to prepare students for their role in providing care to patients. The specific subjects covered may vary depending on the program, but generally include:

Anatomy and Physiology

In this subject, learn about the structure and function of the human body, including the major organs and systems.

Medical Terminology

Healthcare terminology is a special language that physicians and nurses use to describe the diagnosis, therapy, and procedures. As a CNA class student, you’ll need to learn this language. Here are some terms you’ll encounter in CNA classes, and their definitions.

  • Arrhythmia: An irregularity in the heart’s rhythm. Arrhythmias can be harmless or life-threatening.
  • Asepsis: The absence of pathogenic microorganisms. Aseptic techniques are used to prevent infection.
  • Assessment: The process of collecting information about a patient’s health status.
  • Blood pressure: The force of blood against the walls of arteries. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
  • Cardiac arrest: A sudden, life-threatening heart condition. Cardiac arrest can be caused by arrhythmia.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A diagnostic imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the body.
  • Dehydration: A condition that occurs when the body does not have enough fluids. Dehydration can be caused by illness, heat exposure, or strenuous exercise.

Infection Control

Students learn how to prevent the spread of infection, and how to properly clean and disinfect medical equipment.

Safety and Emergency Procedures

One of the most important things you will learn in your CNA classes is how to handle safety and emergencies. This is vital information because as a certified nursing assistant you will be working with patients who may be in fragile health. You need to know how to handle yourself and your patient in any situation.

Ethics and Legal Issues

You will learn about the legal and ethical responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant. This includes things like maintaining patient confidentiality, understanding patients’ rights, and adhering to the policies of your employer.

Things that are Important to Learn in CNA Classes

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All these things are part of training and are necessary for becoming an excellent CNA.

Communication Skills

In hospitals or home nursing settings, effective communication is very crucial to avoid any miscommunication and mistakes. All aspects of effective communication such as active listening, non-verbal and verbal communication, and how to tackle difficult communication are all included in the training program. Patient care documentation, and reporting to other medical staff are also included in it to ensure patients receive high-quality care.

Vital Signs

The 4 vital health indicators, collectively known as vital signs, which give essential detail about the well-being of a patient include:

  • The temperature of the body
  • Blood pressure
  • Rate of respiration
  • Heart rate

All these parameters provide information about changes taking place in patients, so all the CNAs are trained to take these vital signs accurately so that they can convey information to the related medical staff to take any necessary measurements.

Cleanliness & Safety of the Patient

For CNAs proper cleanliness and safety of patients is a top priority as these are helpful to prevent the spread of illness and infection. The primary safety measurements that CNAs learn during training include hand washing, infection control, obstructed airway clearing, placement of transfer belts, and how to provide and sustain healthy and hygienic surroundings for patients.

Students are also enabled to recognize potential dangers such as unlocked wheelchairs, precarious electrical articles, cluttered hallways, and poor lighting.  

Primary Needs

Daily necessities of patients are the primary needs that all CNAs must provide to the patients to ensure their health. These include supervising the food intake, helping the patients with bathing and grooming, helping during exercise and mobility, identifying the symptoms of dehydration, and providing clean beds and clothes.

All these things are also part of training.

Personal Care of Patients

To take care of patients there are several tasks that they must perform to ensure their health. These daily life activities include dressing, bathing, brushing, eating, moving around, and resting. During training, CNAs learn how to perform these activities professionally to aid patients by giving them instructions and physical assistance.

Exercise and Daily Activities

To maintain good health, exercise is compulsory. CNAs learn these exercises and ensure that patients are doing them on daily basis. All patients and especially patients who cannot move on their own are aided by CNAs to properly perform the exercises such as simple stretches, walking, and aiding during physical therapy exercises.

Nutritional Requirements of the Patient

The diet (nutrition and hydration) of the patients is one of the essential things to take care and it is the responsibility of CNAs to properly monitor the nutritional intake of patients. CNAs may assist patients to eat easily and with the preparation of meals. They supervise food intake, follow the diet as guided by a doctor to prevent any allergies, and they inform any changes in eating habits.


The process of elimination of waste material (urine and feces) from the body is termed excretion. Patients who cannot use the washroom without the help of others must be aided to help them to stay healthy and clean. It’s the responsibility of certified nursing assistants to provide urinals or bedpans to help during excretion and unload the drainage bags. They also help patients to maintain their hygiene.

To track the health of patients, measuring the patient’s waste output is necessary which CNAs learn during the training. With age people suffer from incontinence and nursing assistants help them to manage this condition and help them to remain independent and active.

Particular Procedures

Some patients have undergone particular procedures such as intubation in which a tube is inserted into the patient to provide them nutrition and oxygen, or stoma surgery in which feces are removed from the body into a pouch attached to the abdominal wall.

A certified nursing assistant must be enabled enough to take care of such patients. These tubes are placed by doctors, not by CNAs. The nursing assistant must take care of these patients and if they notice any changes report them to the supervising nurse.

Mental Hygiene

Mental hygiene refers to mental health, most patients suffer from mental health issues during their long stay in a hospital. A skillful nursing assistant should be able to identify these signs of mental health problems such as dementia, depression, anxiety, or stress.

They must know how to deal with such patients and must provide them comfort, encouragement, and emotional support. CNAs are not professionals in mental health but they can help patients to deal with their mental issues.

Read Also: How to Get Most Out of CNA Classes: 19 Tips

All of this training is necessary for CNA certification so that they can provide the best possible care to patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Are you interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant? If so, contact us today to learn more about our programs!