While it can take a few years to become a registered nurse, a person can become a licensed nursing assistant (LNA) in just a few short weeks. This career requires training, but does not involve the lengthy education typical of many other medical careers. Training requirements vary from place to place but usually allow a person to enter the health field quickly.
In most places, an individual needs a high school diploma in order to become an LNA. Those who have not earned diplomas are not barred from this career, however. Instead, these people may present a general educational development (GED) diploma or other credentials that are considered equivalent to a high school diploma.
With a diploma or its equivalent in hand, an individual may enroll in a training program for LNAs. There are many places an individual can look for this type of training. Organizations such as the Red Cross in the United States may offer programs, as may many types of educational and nursing organizations. For example, an aspiring LNA may find a training program in a local high school or community college. She may also find training opportunities through vocational-technical schools and nursing facilities.
Training programs often allow prospective LNAs to complete their training and begin working as soon as possible. Some of these programs can be completed in just six to 12 weeks. The exact length of training time required for a person to become an LNA depends on a number of things, including the jurisdiction’s laws regarding LNAs and the topics that are covered. If certification is the goal of training, training programs may last longer than those that do not have this ending goal.
In some places, an individual has to obtain licensing or certification to become an LNA. This may require the individual to complete an approved training program and then take a licensing or certification exam. In other places, an individual isn’t required to seek certification, but may do so voluntarily in the hopes of making herself more attractive to prospective employers.
Before beginning training to become an LNA, an individual may do well to consider the demands of the job. LNAs are required to provide care for individuals who may not be able to do much for themselves; they may have to assist with bathing, grooming, and using the bathroom. Some LNAs even have the responsibility of changing adult diapers and bed pans. Sometimes LNAs have to care for patients who are ornery or aren’t grateful for their help as well. This job often requires plenty of patience as well as a nurturing spirit.