What is an STNA?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 25, 2021

Providing excellent and compassionate patient care are the hallmarks of STNA work. If you love working with patients and collaborating with doctors and nurses in inpatient care, a career as a state-tested nursing assistant (STNA) may be ideal. An STNA fulfills the same duties as a certified nursing assistant (CNA); the job title varies depending on which state you're in. In this article we explain what an STNA/CNA is, how to become an STNA or CNA and what the salary and job outlook is for the role.

What is an STNA?

A State-Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) is a healthcare professional trained and certified to work in Ohio. An STNA's job involves assisting patients, monitoring their health and supporting the nurse or physicians in giving patient care. The typical duties of an STNA include:

  • Administering medicines and supplements to patients

  • Taking care of the nutritional needs of patients

  • Assisting bedridden patients to move around the facility

  • Tracking patients' vital signs such as sugar level, blood pressure and pulse rate

  • Collaborating with their supervisors on administering effective patient care

  • Ensuring physical and psychological needs of patients are taken care of

  • Cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment before and after use on patients

  • Changing bedding

  • Bathing and grooming patients

  • Helping with ambulation of patients

  • Setting up and assisting with medical procedures

STNAs work in the following institutions:

  • Hospitals and clinics

  • Nursing homes

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Hospices

  • Rehabilitation centers

To work as an STNA, you need to be:

  • Dependable: STNAs need to be reliable and responsible in fulfilling their obligations to the patients under their care

  • Cooperative: STNAs need to have collaborative skills and be pleasant to work with

  • An active listener: STNAs need to give undivided attention to what patients are saying and, most importantly, what they are not saying

  • Communicative: STNAs need to communicate clearly with patients, other caregivers and supervisors

  • Service orientated: STNAs must have a service orientation since the bulk of their work entails giving personalized services to others

  • Skilled in medical terminology: STNAs need to have an in-depth understanding of medical terminology to enable proper diagnosis, recording and supervisor briefing

Read more:Learn About Being a Surgical Assistant

Whatis a CNA?

CNA and STNA responsibilities are largely similar. The main difference is that STNA is the title given to CNA in Ohio. In most states, the title given to these healthcare professionals is Certified Nursing Assistant. A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is responsible for taking care of patients by helping them with their healthcare needs. Certified Nursing Assistants work under a registered nurse, a doctor, and other medical professionals to care for ill, injured or disabled patients.

CNAs work is essential in institutions such as:

  • Hospital

  • Home care agencies

  • Assisted living facilities

  • Correctional facilities

  • Urgent care clinics

To excel as a CNA, here are the essential skills you must possess:

  • Empathy:This helps in understanding patients' perspectives, making them feel safe and less anxious

  • Emotional intelligence: To understand patients behavioral changes and respond appropriately

  • Communication and interpersonal skills: To help you communicate with the patients and relate with them at a personal level and for effective collaboration with doctors and nurses

  • Clinical knowledge: CNAs must possess relevant and updated knowledge about their areas of specialization to be able to serve their patients better

  • Team player: To effectively collaborate with other healthcare professionals for an excellent patient experience and holistic care

  • Time management skills: To ensure all planned medications and procedures on patients are performed on time to avoid relapse or delayed healing

Read more:Learn About Being a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)

How to become an STNA or CNA

The qualifications, duties and steps to become an STNA or CNA are similar in most aspects, save for minor differences such as cross-state training and licensing requirements. If you are a CNA in a particular state, you need to get the requisite approval before working as an STNA in other states. Typically, here are the steps to becoming an STNA or CNA.

1. Complete your high school diploma

A career path as an STNA or CNA requires a minimum of a high school diploma. You can become a certified nursing assistant a year after completing high school, making it one of the most straightforward entry points to a medical field career. Some STNAs and CNAs opt to undertake a degree in nursing after high school. While not a requirement, a degree makes you stand out to prospective employers.

If you have identified this career path, it will help if you undertake such courses as biology and anatomy. Volunteering at a nursing home or hospice will give you a hint of what it's like to work as an STNA or CNA. You also get an opportunity to speak with those already in the profession and ask questions to gauge your level of interest in the career.

2. Complete state-approved STNA or CNA training

After high school, you need to seek admission to an accredited vocational school, community college or hospital that offers STNA or CNA training. Most states require that prospective STNAs and CNAs undergo at least 75 hours of coursework and clinical studies. Some of the things you will learn include:

  • Observing patients

  • Patients' rights

  • Safety skills

  • Communication skills

  • First aid skills

  • Human anatomy and physiology

  • Mental health

  • Checking vitals

  • Daily living personal care

  • Situational procedures

The training takes one to four months to complete depending on the coursework load and medium. Online classes may take longer depending on a learner's availability and adherence to the program timetable. Some institutions offer weekend or evening classes, which may take longer to complete than full-time studies.

3. Fulfill clinical requirements

Besides the classroom training, you are also required to work for some measurable hours in a facility under a medical professional's supervision. The essence of the clinical training is to enable you to transfer theoretical training into a practical setting. You also learn the needs of different patients under the guidance of a more experienced nursing assistant.

4. Obtain a license

After passing your coursework and clinical training, you need to apply for a license. A license is obtained from your state's registrar of health aid workers and qualifies you to be added to a trained STNA or CNA database. The application requires you to submit details such as:

  • Your name and contact information

  • Your physical address

  • Name of institution where you completed your training

  • Academic transcripts

  • Any supporting document such as reference letters

Some states also require you to state your criminal record. While having a criminal record may not necessarily bar you from getting licensed, some offenses may require that you undergo more rigorous background checks before you are allowed to work with vulnerable patients.

5. Earn certification

Earning a certification as a CNA or STNA is a requirement in most states. To become a certified CNA, one must undertake 80 hours of classroom work and 40 hours of clinical instruction. An STNA certification program varies from state to state but generally takes fewer hours to complete.

Getting a certification requires one to undertake a competency exam covering essential topics studied during the program. The exam combines practical skills testing and multiple-choice questions with candidates required to attain a pass mark of 80%. Some of the areas where candidates are tested include:

  • Infection control

  • Personal care

  • Care impaired

  • Data collection

  • Basic nursing skills

  • Disease process

The aim of certifying STNAs and CNAs is to ensure patient care consistency across the field. Certification also allows CNAs in good standing to work across states that have reciprocity agreements. You are also required to maintain your certification status to continue working in most states. This mainly requires that you undergo specified training annually or once every two years.

6. Put your skills to work

After the training and certification programs, STNAs and CNAs can put their skills to work in different facilities where their services are required. You can do this by preparing a great resume and cover letter detailing your career objective, outstanding skills and work experience. It would help if you also networked to increase your chances of landing a job. Honing your interview skills can also be helpful to impress when invited for an interview.

Read more: Certified Nursing Assistant Resume Samples

Work environments for STNAs and CNAs

Most STNAs and CNAs work in nursing homes, residential care facilities and hospitals. Their work requires them to be physically active as they may need to help lift patients. They are also required to work day or night shifts, depending on the facility's duty roster. The working hours range between eight to twelve hours per day, but they may be required to work overtime, over the weekend and holidays. Due to the nature of their work, STNAs and CNAs may qualify for on-call pay.

Read more:Learn About Being a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Salary and job outlook for STNAs and CNAs

The average annual salary of an STNA is $35,074, while that of a CNA is $34, 957. The hourly wage for these jobs is $15.06 and $15.48 respectively. STNAs and CNAs may also be entitled to overtime pay ranging between $4250 to $4500 per annum.

The base salary varies depending on the state where you are practicing, your level of experience and your education, with those with a higher education, such as a degree in nursing care earning markedly higher. To increase your chances of a higher salary, you may choose to enhance your education, target higher-paying institutions or states with a higher-than-average salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants' job outlook is projected to grow 8% in the next decade, which is faster than average for most occupations. The growth may be attributed to the increase in the number of people, especially the elderly, who require specialized care.

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