Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

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There are two required classes for the CNA program. NRS 101 Basic Nursing Assistant is an introduction of theory and practice necessary to meet patient needs. Clinical experience is included at a long-term care facility. NRS 103 Advanced Nursing Assistant is taken after successful completion of NRS 101. The focus is on advanced nursing assistant skills and includes clinical experience.

A criminal background check is required before enrollment. The student needs to meet health and immunization requirements. Candidates must be at least 15 years of age. Candidates who do not have a high school diploma or GED must be able to read at the 8th grade level or have instructor permission.

This curriculum meets the mandates of the Illinois Department of Public Health to be eligible to take the nurse aide competency exam. The exam is scheduled upon successful completion of Sauk’s certificate program. CNA is also required for admission to Sauk’s ADN and LPN programs.

Career Facts

Job Description 

Nursing assistants work directly with the patient providing physical care and emotional support under the supervision of a nurse.  Physical care includes assistance with personal hygiene, nutrition, elimination and mobility.

Who is a Good Fit? 

In order to be a good fit for this career, a person should be compassionate, honest, caring, and trustworthy, pay attention to detail, have good oral and written communication skills and have the ability to meet the physical demands in providing personal care to patients.


High school graduate or G.E.D. and successful completion of approved basic nursing assistant training program. Students must successfully pass the Nurse Aide Competency Exam.

Median Pay  

Hourly $9.62- $12.91
Annual $20,006 – $26,856

Job Outlook

Employment of nursing assistants in Illinois is projected to grow 19.74% from 2010-2020.

cna1Graduate Story: Sandy Morrissey

CNA graduate

A portion of the Nightingale pledge that nurses often recite says that nurses will “devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” Certainly Sauk graduate Sandy Morrissey feels the same as she has always wanted to help others in need. “I always wanted to be in the nursing field” she said. However, it took her a little longer to reach that goal as raising her family took precedence earlier in life; she has two daughters. But when she got a little older, and her aging father needed a little more attention, Sandy decided to go back to college. “I really wanted to be able to take care of my Dad [if he needed me],” she added, and getting her CNA has been a great start.

Sandy admits that going back to school was frightening. “I didn’t know I could do it.” But once she got started in the CNA program, she excelled. “I ended up with an A in class” she exclaimed proudly. She also felt very prepared for the State exam that all nurses must take to become certified. “[My teacher] was great. She prepared me for that State exam. Everything I’m doing now [at work] is what I learned in that [program].”

With renewed confidence, she even admitted that she might even go back to get her LPN degree. “I really enjoyed [learning] once I got going.” Sandy has proven that it’s never too late to start your dreams.

Sandy now works part-time for Visiting Angels of Dixon.

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