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Being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or any medical assistant is a good career and despite most people believing that it is very difficult and too engaging since one has to handle multiple tasks while at it. The relevance of CNAs and medical assistants in the United States dates back to late 1955 and early 1956 (Street, 2006). Medical assistants and CNAs are managed and controlled by the American Association of Medical Assistance (AAMA) (Street, 2006). In fact, the AAMA stands as the only association globally that is solely and entirely devoted to the medical assistance profession. For a person to become a CNA or any medical assistant, it is required of him or her to meet certain requirements set by the AAMA. In some cases, one is required to acquire a license that permits him or her to perform given procedures on patients and in their line of duty. One is allowed to start his career in medical assistance through on job training; however, most employers look for those with formal education or those who have attended training program. Programs in medical assistance in the United States are offered at high school level, vocational institutions, and tertiary institutions like colleges and universities. Applying for any medical assistant job requires that one has a high school diploma or GED. In order for one to become a certified medical assistant, he or she is expected to complete a medical assistant program which includes sitting for certification exams upon finishing the program. This essay embarks on analyzing the roles played by Certified Nursing Assistant in the health care industry and finding out the possible reasons for their low pay wage.
The Role of Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an important element of any health team. They play several crucial roles when it comes to patient care apart from acting as intermediaries between the patients and other health teams. CNAs provide patients with emotional, social as well as physical support. The tasks they perform are normally delegated and supervised by a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). In short, CNAs are trained and certified persons who are mandated with providing the basic quality of life care to patients and residents. CNAs’ mandates include helping patients and residents with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL) like feeding them, helping them maintain hygiene, helping with house chores, assisting with patients’ transportation and mobility issues. According to NCDHHS (2013), CNAs’ roles and responsibilities vary with state regulations, employers’ policy, patients’ personal needs and employment setting. Generally, CNAs work in various work settings including mental health centers, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, home care agencies among others.
CNAs refer to the people they take care of and serve as either residents or patients. However, in the entire medical field, CNAs fall under the lowest paid group, despite the fact that they are the group that carries out all the tasks especially the physical work. CNAs are the prime care givers; they interact and associate with both residents and patients more than any other members of the health care team (Street, 2006). Majority of the patients and residents that the CNAs deal with required long-term care such us being admitted into nursing homes and some need to be taken care of from their homes. Because of the long-term care needed by most residents or patients, a number of CNAs end up creating bonds and close relationships with the patients and residents. However, the reasons as to why CNAs still receive low pay despite them being overworked are not clear. Some studies show that lack of proper training among CNAs is the main reason why they are paid low wages compared to other health care teams. Well-paying CNA jobs are relatively hard to get despite them requiring little training and fewer skills.
Aspects or the CNAs’ Salaries
The amount of income that CNAs received depends on various aspects. Level of experience of the CNA is one of the factors that affect what one earns, after five years of working experience in most cases the income increases. Additionally, having extra certifications as a CNA results in higher pay since more certifications and experience attracts employers. Notably, what a CNA earns either yearly or monthly would also depend on his or her employer, for instance nursing homes, hospitals, home health aide and clinics all pay differently. According to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, yearly salaries for CNAs working in nursing care facilities is $24,460, $27,290 for those working in general hospitals, those working in community senior centers earn $23,530 whereas those working with home health care aide earn $23,710 (Annual salaries for CNA /CNA information / CNA Online-Certified Nurse Assistant certification). Compared to other health care professionals, CNAs’ salary is relatively low. Noteworthy, where CNAs work and live also have an effect on what they earn monthly or yearly. For instance, those working in the western part of the U.S as well as the north-eastern part and in cities and suburbs earn relatively high salaries that are above the national average. On the other hand, those working in U.S rural areas and the south-eastern parts tend to earn small salaries sometimes even way below the national average.
With all these statistics and information therefore, it is evident that CNAs receive less than they should get for the services they offer. I therefore embark on giving my own assessment of the reasons as to why CNAs are overworked and underpaid. Firstly, I believe that CNAs are overworked and underpaid mainly because of the very limited scope in their practices as health care providers. As it is widely perceived, those employees that give hard manual labor always get paid less compared to senior professions. The reason why this is so is a topic worth studying. Secondly, as much as some CNAs have lesser roles to play compared to RNs, most CNAs only use the job as a mere stepping stone to becoming professional nurses, and therefore this makes them willing to take low pay in order to gain experience. For this reason, the AAMA does not feel the need to increase the CAN pay. Thirdly, I am of the opinion that CNAs pay wage remains relatively low in the medical field despite the extensive tasks they perform because of their lack of accountability. In most cases, when issues arise it is the facility, the RNs and other senior medical professionals that are held accountable.
Fourthly, I also believe that CNAs are paid less compared to RNs and other medical professionals because of their low experiences. Normally, CNAs tasks are delegated and supervised meaning that they are not well equipped with the necessary knowledge for handling most tasks. Another reason that contributes to CNAs’ low pay wage is their lack of unity, I believe if all CNAs came and stood together as one to fight for pay rise and gave unified reasons as to why they believe they should be paid more, the government and the AAMA will consider revising their national pay average. As it is, there will always be someone willing to accept any kind of payment even the lowest due to unemployment issues and out of life frustrations. However, I believe that if people especially CNAs decided that they would not accept their current low pays with unless the pay is increased or tasks are reduced, the government and medical associations would most probably reconsider their employment terms.
Another argument for low pay wage and too much work for CNAs could be attributed to their level of education. Universally, pay wage increases with the level of education. Considering that one only needs a high school diploma and some minor training to be become a CNA, there is no way an RN whose education level is higher would be paid as the CNAs. Notably, the low pay could be due to the different locations one works in. Additionally, I also believe CNAs are paid less due to their lack of various skills required in the medical field, like assessment and judgment skills, RNs have been trained to assess and judge a patients’ condition while CNAs are not trained to have such skills.
One can say that CNAs’ low pay wage is in most cases relative as it depends on one’s location, one’s employer and the government national average. Despite the fact that CNAs play significant roles in the medical field, these roles are highly undervalued, which calls for attention. It is obvious that an unsatisfied employee will be less motivated to work and will have no morale to give his or her best. The same applies to CNAs. This group of professionals deals mostly with elderly people and patients who need a lot of care and attention, but with low pay it takes a lot for one to give his or her best care to the patient. It is upon the government, AAMA and other medical associations to ensure that CNAs get better employment terms for a better future in providing medical assistance. Since education level is what determines the amount of physical labor allocated to an employee and the amount of income allocated to a given task, CNAs should be given more education that will increase their accountability and skills in providing health care.
Annual salaries for CNA /CNA information / CNA Online-Certified Nurse Assistant certification. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.cnaonline.info/Annual-salaries-For-Certified-Nursing-Assistant-CNA
NCDHHS., (2013). Certified Nursing Assistant. Retrieved from https://www.ncdhhs.gov
CNA Certification Training, (2018). CNA Certification. Retrieved from http://cnacertification-training.com
Street, A., (2006). Waging a Living, New York, NY: Filmakers Library.
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