Certified Nursing Assistant Schools

What are the most affordable brick-and-mortar and online certified nursing assistant schools?

There are many affordable options for brick-and-mortar CNA schools in every part of the country. Florida’s Indian River State College is ranked as the twelfth top public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Reportand the third most affordable college in the country by the U.S. Department of Education. For Florida residents, tuition is approximately $99 per credit, and it is $378 per credit for out-of-state students.

Community colleges and vocational schools may also offer traditional programs or a CNA degree online and are less costly than 4-year institutions, but you will not be able to obtain an advanced degree unless you transfer.

Traditional schools typically cost thousands of dollars more than certified nursing assistant online schools due to the need for student housing, meal plans and other costs associated with running a physical campus. Since online schools for CNA eliminate these costs, your tuition mainly pays for technology and course materials and thus is much less expensive.

For example, St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants is 1 of the most affordable CNA online schools. The school offers a CNA degree for just over $1,000. However, most online programs require you to arrange your own clinical hours.

How can I connect with other on-campus or online students who are also studying at my school for certified nursing assistant?

The best online CNA schools as well as on-campus schools will have at least 1 organization for CNAs and nursing students to interact with each other. Mt. San Jacinto College, for example, hosts the Southwest Association of Nursing Students (SWANS). At University of Evansville you can join the Brotherhood of Student Nurses, and at Mississippi College the Baptist Nursing Fellowship is available.

Most college groups, however, are chapters of nationally recognized organizations. Whether you attend a top CNA school online or a traditional program, you should consider joining your local chapter. The 2 major associations for nursing students are the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) and the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). Both organizations have state and national chapters. NSNA hosts an annual national conference, an annual Northeast Leadership Conference and a midyear conference. HOSA hosts an annual National Leadership Conference.

While it can be more difficult for students attending CNA schools online to connect with each other, online programs usually feature message boards that will allow you to discuss various topics related to your studies. At University of Wisconsin, Sheboygan, online students use compressed video to view and speak to each other in real time.

What resources should my brick-and-mortar or online school offer me when I am studying certified nursing assistant?

As with almost any program of study, scholarships, financial aid and internships are available to traditional students as well as those in an accredited online CNA school. Many schools offer financial aid for students who qualify, but it is dependent on the school and the state.

Some community colleges do not offer any aid for CNA students despite the courses being prerequisites for registered nurse training. Larger colleges and universities, however, should have financial aid available.

On-campus CNA programs integrate lab work and internships, depending on state licensing requirements, as part of the course. You will complete your clinical hours at a local facility under the direct supervision of your instructor and practice your skills through lab demonstrations. Students enrolled in an online CNA school typically must arrange their own internships, though schools such as Southwestern Oregon Community College offer a skill lab/practicum as part of its online basic nursing assistant training.

Are there any nonprofit online certified nursing assistant schools or programs that I could look into?

While most CNA programs are offered by 2-year community colleges or vocational schools, there are a handful of nonprofit programs available. Most are traditional programs and are not offered through certified nursing assistant schools online, although 1 exception is Lake Area Technical Institute, a nonprofit in Watertown, South Dakota. Lake Area Tech offers a CNA program approved by the state Board of Nursing, and its nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

As with most online programs, you will need to find a facility in which to complete your clinical hours and lab work, though the school has a local nursing home that can fulfill the requirements if you cannot locate a facility on your own.

At just over $320 for the course (not including book, clinicals or certification test) this online program is a valid option for students who want accreditation in order to become licensed but need to keep educational expenses down. However, because of the rarity of online nonprofit CNA programs, it is much easier to find a CNA program that meets your needs through your local college or technical school.