A CNA, short for certified nursing assistant, is a health care professional responsible for the care of patients. Duties include basic nursing procedures, daily living activities, routine care and transporting patients. Surgery preparation and observing patient conditions are also duties of a CNA. Certified nursing assistants work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or LPN. Becoming a CNA in California requires applicants to meet the requirements of the California Department of Public Health.

Education Requirements

California requires CNA candidates to go through a pre-certification training program consisting of 60 hours of classroom training including classes on basic nursing skills, patient safety and rights, the social and psychological problems of patients and resident abuse prevention. In addition to the 60 hours of classroom training, 100 hours of supervised on-the-job training clinical practice also is required. Six hours of the 160 combined classroom and hands-on hours must address the needs of people with developmental or mental disorders. Qualifying conditions include mental retardation, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, dementia and mental illness. The classroom and hands-on training prepares the CNA candidate for the state certification exam required.

General Requirements

CNA certification applicants between 16 and 18 years of age must have parent consent. A high school diploma or GED equivalent also is required to participate in training program classes in colleges and approved facilities throughout the state of California. Candidates must successfully pass a training program approved by the state of California including an exam to test the applicant’s knowledge and skills related to basic patient care services. A criminal background clearance also is required before certification is obtained. CNA certification has to be renewed every two years. California requires certified nursing assistants to complete 48 hours of in-service training every two years with an approved training program in order to maintain certification status with the state.

Health and Fitness

California CNA certification requires applicants to pass a health screening and physical examination. State regulated tests include HIV, tuberculosis and tests for any other communicable disease that might put a potential patient at risk when administering care. Certified nursing assistants have to be in good physical shape in order to transport, lift and move patients from beds and surgery rooms, which may require heavy lifting. Good emotional, physical and mental health are necessary in a CNA position for endurance purposes. Maintaining composure in high stress situations encountered on the job is important to the health and well-being of patients.