How to Become a CNA in Canada

by Maria Pavel on September 28, 2011

A CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, in Canada is known by a variety of names. These include resident care worker, support worker, health care aide, or nursing assistant. When discussed in literature nationwide, a CNA is referred to as an unregulated healthcare worker, or UHW. It can actually become a bit confusing because in Canada, CNA is also known as the Canadian Nursing Association. That’s why there are other names such as UHW and PSW that mean the same thing as CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant.

A Canadian nursing assistant, or CNA, works in any type of medical facility where there are certified nurses to supervise them, including hospitals. A major difference between a CNA and nursing assistant is that the CNA is not nationally regulated. While the profession itself isn’t nationally regulated, there are provincial requirements set up by various Canadian provinces. Most employers prefer to hire a UHW that has successfully completed a related college course.

There are several universities and colleges in Canada that offer short courses to prepare you for a UWH career. Whether the program is regulated or not, completing one of these programs is the best way for you to be hired. Depending on what region they’re in, they’re called by different names. These courses are usually between 3 and 12 months in length, and are required to provide training in body mechanics, communication and personal care.

In some provinces, PSWs, or personal support workers, are required to successfully complete a provincial exam in order to get their certification. Additionally, they must complete an educational course. Successful PSW graduates are eligible to take the exam as well as PSWs who have already started working in their field prior to the certification requirement being established. PSWs in the field don’t have to upgrade their certification.

As Canada has two national languages, English and French, it is a requirement that any Certified Nursing Assistants are fluent in at least one of these languages. Otherwise, employment at any health care facility or hospital will be impossible. If you’re seeking employment in Ontario, Quebec or Manitoba, it will give you an edge to getting hired if you’re fluent in both languages. The reason for this is that there are more French speaking citizens in those provinces than most of the other Canadian areas.

To get on the road to becoming a CNA in Canada, decide where you want to work and then choose the location of the program. Getting in your required training hours plus successfully passing the exam is necessary before you can even begin to look for work. Once you’ve completed all training and passed the exam, you’re ready to start applying for jobs. Also, keep in mind the language requirement, as that can help put you higher up on the list to be hired.

You should also remember that there’s a huge need for people to work in the medical field. This is especially true when it comes to CNAs and nurses. It’s definitely a career to choose if you want to get to work quickly.

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