If you are looking to work in the healthcare field, and especially with the elderly, you may have considered becoming a certified nursing assistant. But there are a number of healthcare job descriptions in the elder care industry, and it may be difficult to see the major differences.
To be specific, the majority of differences come from certifications. No states, as yet, have a certification program for home health aides. Although, home health aides may do many of the same activities with American senior citizens as certified nursing assistants. The starting salary is lower as a result, because the training is done by the company itself. This can cause problems for career mobility, as different companies may offer different training programs.
By contrast, certified nursing assistants must take a state examination to prove that they have mastered the skills needed to assist elderly Americans with clinical needs such as medication management or other health needs such as diabetes assistance or help with catheters. The amount of training may be double that of the in-house curriculum for a home health aide, and the exam includes both written and practical components, including how to examine vital signs.
The final difference is often salaries offered. Since certified nursing assistants can work in medical facilities and hospitals as well as providing home healthcare services, they can make thousands more per year than home health aides. They also have the flexibility of taking on part-time work as an HHA, due to their more advanced training.
Choosing to become a certified nursing assistant is much like choosing to become a BSN rather than a registered nurse which takes less time. More doors are open, you can provide more care for your patients, and the upper end of salaries are higher. More importantly, you can work in more than one specialization of medicine, and as the need for qualified elder care specialists grow, job prospects will remain strong.
Keep in mind, too, that the advanced training will also improve working conditions, as certified nursing assistants may, also, supervise less well-trained workers at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Though you may spend several months to more than a year on training, the upshot is the ability to stay on the leading edge of healthcare without advanced degrees or specializations.