If you have compassion for and a desire to help people who are ill, injured or elderly, a job as a certified nursing assistant medical technician (CNA med tech) may be right for you. With this combination of two jobs, CNA med techs are trained to perform all the responsibilities of both jobs. Having this combo training can make you more valuable to employers because you can perform all the patient care functions of a CNA as well as administer medication with the added CMT certification.
As a CNA med tech, your CNA responsibilities will include helping patients with basic daily needs such as bringing them their meals, helping them eat, and providing assistance as they bathe, dress, brush their hair or use the bathroom.
When patients push their call bells, it's often the CNA or CNA med tech who answers and brings supplies, helps them be more comfortable by turning or repositioning them in bed, and transfers them between a wheelchair and bed so they don't fall. They may also take and record a patient's temperature and blood pressure. CNA med techs often serve as a liaison between patients and nurses by relaying patients' needs or concerns to the nurse. When it's time for a patient’s medications, the CNA med tech can administer them, whereas a CNA without the med tech certification cannot.
CNA med tech duties and responsibilities include checking that the medications match the doctor's orders, delivering them to the patients, staying while they take the medication, recording the time the medication was given, taking and recording the patient's vital signs, and noting any adverse effects the medication seems to have.
CNA med techs also handle the CNA duties such as getting rooms ready for new patients by restocking items, tidying the room and remaking the bed. If asked, they help doctors or nurses with treatments, gather supplies for them, and change wound dressings as directed.
A CNA med tech must take the training that both jobs require, learn the CNA and med tech job duties and earn each certification. CNA programs approved by each state are offered at community colleges, hospitals, the Red Cross and online. Beyond ensuring that the programs you're considering are approved by your state, it's important to choose the setting and type of learning that works best for you. Online classes are the most flexible and can be completed at your own pace, whether that's faster or slower than an in-person program. However, in-person classes allow for more hands-on learning and interaction with instructors and other students.
Whether you study in person or online, both programs include classroom learning followed by clinical training working with patients while directly supervised by a licensed nurse. You learn the basics of patient care including taking vital signs, performing first aid and CPR, using automated external defibrillators (AEDs), infection control and patient safety, helping patients with a range of motion exercises, specialty care and other types of caregiving. You also work and communicate with other members of the health care team. You learn basic medical terminology and human anatomy. Each state may have different requirements for the number of clinical hours you must work to become certified.
After clinical training, you take your state's certification exam. It typically has two parts: multiple choice questions and a demonstration of skills.
Training to become a certified medication technician varies by state but is typically a short program held over several successive days. For example, in Maryland, CMTs complete a 20-hour program taught by registered nurses and approved by the state's board of nursing. Participants learn the best practices and procedures for administering medication to patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, assisted living facilities and home health care. After completing the training, the RN in charge signs the student's application to the board of nursing to become a CMT. Certification must be renewed every two years.
The median annual salary for CNA med techs in 2017 was $27,510, which is $13.23 an hour. A median salary is the midpoint of a list of salaries for one occupation at which half earn more and half earn less. The range is $20,540 to $35,919.
CNA med techs work in nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities, hospitals and home health services. Most work full time and may be required to work a variety of shifts including nights and weekends. The job involves lifting and moving patients, as well as being on your feet most of the time, so it can be strenuous, and injuries can occur.
Years of Experience
Many people start as a CNA and add the med tech training afterward. As a new CNA, you can expect a salary at the lower end of the pay range and a period of on-the-job training. As you gain experience and add the med tech skills, your salary will increase and, after years on the job, you may approach the high end of the salary range.
Job Growth Trend
The need for CNAs, including CNA med techs, is expected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than the average job growth rate. As baby boomers age, more health care workers, including CNA med techs, will be needed to care for them as they encounter the illnesses and diseases that come with age.