If you are considering entering the caregiving field in an assisted living facility, it is important to understand the caregiver training requirements. The desire to help the elderly is commendable, and you will make a difference in their lives. Having a positive impact on those you care for doesn’t just depend on your compassion and willingness to help, though; it hinges on the education and training you acquire, and that is highly variable across the states. There are generally three ways to become a professional caregiver in an assisted living facility.
On the Job Training
Many people begin their caregiving journey on the job even before they understand the caregiver training requirements. The required education level is a high school diploma or a GED. All you need to do is put together a resume and fill out applications at local assisted living facilities. Once hired, the assisted living facility will lead you in on the job training according to their procedures and state-specific regulations. Your title will vary according to the facility; however, your duties will include administrative support and helping with personal needs throughout the day, such as cleaning and cooking or even organizing social events.
The facility may also have additional requirements to be completed either prior to your first day or within a set amount of time after your hire date. These additional requirements may include:
- CPR certification
- First Aid certification
- State competency exam
- Clean background check
Earning a Nursing Assistant Certificate
Even though the caregiver training requirements may not be extensive, you may find it useful to prepare yourself for better career opportunities. Another way to go about entering the field of professional caregiving is to earn your Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate. This will allow you to fully meet the education and training requirements of your state to become a CNA caregiver for any local assisted living facility. To earn your certificate, you must enroll in a state-approved education program with no less than 75 credit hours. Some states require on the job training as part of the credit hours.
After completing the program, you will be required to successfully pass a state competency exam in order to receive your certificate and to be placed on the state registry. You must be on your state’s registry in order to work in an assisted living facility as a nursing assistant.
Your job duties as the primary caregiver may include:
- Taking vital signs
- Feeding, bathing, and dressing residents
- Providing companionship
- Providing transportation
In order to dispense medications, you must be a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or as is sometimes the lingo, a Med-Tech.
Certified Medical Assistant Requirements
Also referred to as a Medical Technician, this title will enable you to earn a little more money as your responsibilities are increased. Requirements are somewhat similar to a CNA certificate; however, to become a CMA you will need to graduate from a postsecondary education program through a community college, vocational, or technical school. The program lasts for a year or so, at which time you pass the exit exam to graduate, and you will receive either a diploma or a certificate. You do not need to be registered with the state, but there are usually third party organizations that offer certification to polish your resume. The duties you would be required to perform vary according to the facility and may include:
- Administering medications
- Medical billing codes
- Patient chart management
- Taking vital signs
Continuing Education Requirements
…you will have a certain amount of continuing education hours to complete…
One final consideration when beginning your professional caregiving journey is the requirement of keeping current on your field’s latest advances. Depending on the state you are employed with or the agency that holds your certification, you will have a certain amount of continuing education hours to complete in order to maintain good standing with your accreditation. Annual continuing education units (CEU’s) will need to be submitted by the deadline.
Often times, these credit hours can be obtained through classes at the local hospital or even the accrediting organization.
The demand for nursing and other assistants for assisted living continues to consistently rise in our nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21% growth in the field by the year 2022. Combine that statistic with the obtainable training and education requirements, and a career as a healthcare assistant is a promising and rewarding one.
Miller, Ashley. Job Description for a Resident Assistant at Assisted Living. Available at http://work.chron.com/job-description-resident-assistant-assisted-living-18081.html. Last Visited January 20, 2016.
Study.com. Caregiver CNA: Education Requirements and Career Information. Available at http://study.com/articles/Caregiver_CNA_Education_Requirements_and_Career_Information.html. Last Visited January 20, 2016.
United States Department of Labor. How to Become a Medical Assistant. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-4. Last Visited January 20, 2016.
United States Department of Labor. How to Become a Nursing Assistant or Orderly. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-4. Last Visited January 20, 2016.