20 Must have CNA Skills

20 Must-Have CNA Skills

So you want to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). You have a strong passion for helping and caring for others, and are now ready to take your first steps into the healthcare field. Where do you begin?
To become a certified nursing assistant, there are two primary requirements: first, you must complete a state-approved educational CNA program, in which you will learn the basic principles and techniques of nursing and clinical work. Upon graduation of this training program, you must complete a state-specific competency exam. Passing this exam will earn you the official title of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
For many prospective CNAs, the most nerve-wracking part of the training and certification process is just taking that state exam, which includes written testing as well as a clinical skills evaluation. The clinical or CNA skills assessment is by far the most important part of the exam in that it constitutes the highest marks. During this evaluation, you will be asked to demonstrate a range of practical CNA skills in an accurate and efficient manner.
There are between 20 and 30 skills you can be tested on as part of your CNA certification exam. But that is only the beginning. There is an extensive list of skills that CNAs must have, hold, and succeed at while on the job. You see, a certified nursing assistant is much like a jack-of-all-trades in the medical field. From comforting patients to taking vital signs, exercising to feeding residents, there are a multitude of CNA skills that each caregiver must possess.
As a leading CNA program in the state of Connecticut, Stone Academy aims to help students develop the very skills needed to land a certified nursing career. Our flexible, 125-hour program is founded on the 25 traditional nursing aide skills required of CNAs, and provides in-depth, hands-on training in the core clinical competencies involving patient care. To help you get started on your path towards becoming a CNA, we’ve compiled the most essential and desired CNA skills taught in our program below.

CNA Skills Relating to Patient Care:

  1. Handwashing– The only skill that is scored in every state’s clinical exam, handwashing is evaluated based on application and technique as well as length of time.
  2. Indirect care – Indirect care is an overarching skill that includes patients’ safety and protection, infection control, communication, and the ability to meet resident needs and comfort.
  3. Taking vital signs – From measuring blood pressure to body temperature, recording pulse to respiratory counts, CNAs must know and understand how to perform and document patient vital signs.
  4. Range of motion exercises – CNAs must provide a passive range of motion tests to assess the progress of a patient’s recovery. Range of motion tests may be performed in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles.
  5. Ambulation with a gait belt – Many patients you encounter will need assistance standing and getting around. A transfer or gait belt is used by CNAs to help their residents walk.
  6. Positioning patients – CNAs must have a working knowledge of the different patient positions, such as supine, prone, lateral, Sim’s, and Fowler’s.
  7. Feeding – Many of your patients will not be able to feed or drink themselves. For feeding, you will need to position your residents correctly as well as record their food and fluid intake.
  8. Mouth care – From elderly patients with dentures to unconscious patients in comas, certified nursing assistants help dependent patients with mouth care and treatments.
  9. Hand, foot, and nail care – Without proper hygiene, hands, feet, and nails can carry bacteria and lead to infections in patients. CNAs must help dependent patients maintain cleanly hands and feet.
  10. Perineal care – This skill is needed to protect patients from urinary tract, bladder, and kidney infections, and is done regularly in part with a patient’s bathing.
  11. Bathing – For any patients that have difficulty moving, they require partial, periodic bedbaths.
  12. Dressing patients – If you have a patient with a weak arm, a patient that has been paralyzed or that has suffered a stroke, they may not be able to dress on their own. As part of your required CNA skill set, you will need to know how to assist your patients with dressing.
  13. Toileting – For patients who are unable to walk or stand, a bedpan may be needed. CNAs assist patients with the use of a bedpan, clean patients to prevent infection, and dispose of bedpan continents properly.
  14. Monitoring and measuring urine – From giving catheter care to measuring the output of urine, CNAs are responsible for monitoring, recording, and caring for kidney and urinary troubles in patients.
  15. Changing an occupied bed – For immobile patients, CNAs are responsible for changing bed linens while patients are still in bed.

Interpersonal CNA Skills:

  1. Communicating with patients who have trouble with hearing or speech
  2. Assisting patients who have memory loss (such as Alzheimer’s), confusion, or trouble understanding
  3. Reassuring and comforting residents and their families in times of need
  4. Educating family members as well as residents on treatments and preventive care
  5. Providing orientations to new residents and mentoring them on the operations of your facility

In addition to technical on-the-job skills, communication skills are essential for certified nursing assistants who must know how to communicate effectively with both their patients and their medical team. Even more, CNAs must know how to be compassionate and empathetic in all their communications and patient care routines.
If you are interested in becoming a CNA in Connecticut and enrolling in a skills-based CNA program, Stone Academy just may be the right choice for you. Here, we offer on-campus classes and off-site clinical training in local hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers so that students can practice on-the-job CNA skills even before entering the field. For more information on Stone Academy’s CNA classes, or to learn about our other nursing program offerings, please call (800) 585-1315 today.