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What is a GNA? Geriatric Nursing Assistant Guide, Salary, FAQ & More

geriatric nursing assistant sitting with a patient

Geriatric Nursing Assistant Certification in Maryland

A geriatric nursing assistant is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who has met the requirements and completed the necessary steps to receive the geriatric nursing assistant designation and often works in long-term care settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maryland has over 26,000 employed nursing assistants. Geriatric nursing assistants are in high demand across Maryland due to the aging baby boomer generation. In this article, we’ll answer your questions about geriatric nursing assistants: what they do, where they work, how to become one, and how to find jobs.

This article is an informative resource and should not be construed as professional advice. 

What Does GNA Stand For in Medical Terms?

GNA is the acronym for Geriatric Nursing Assistant.

Geriatric Nursing Assistant vs CNA: What Is the Difference?

Although the two professions are different, they have many similarities. Let’s start with the similarities first:

  • GNAs and CNAs must first pass a board-approved program.
  • Both are nursing assistants. 
  • Both are certified, registered, and regulated by the Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON).
  • Both can work in a variety of healthcare settings.
  • Both provide direct care to patients.
  • Registered nurses (RNs) delegate nursing tasks to and supervise both.

The differences between the two are as follows:

  • GNAs must pass the Geriatric Nursing Assistant Examination.
  • GNAs may work with the elderly population in long-term care settings.
  • GNA is a designation on the CNA certificate, not a separate certificate.

How Do I Become a Geriatric Nursing Assistant?

The first step to becoming a geriatric nursing assistant is to become a CNA. The Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON) maintains a list of approved CNA/GNA training programs throughout the state. According to the MBON, the steps to becoming a GNA are as follows:

  1. Complete a board-approved GNA course.
  2. Complete the CNA certification application, provide the criminal history record check, and pay the certification fee.
  3. Receive CNA certification.
  4. Pass the Geriatric Nursing Assistant Examination.
  5. Receive GNA designation.

How Do I Find a Board-Approved GNA Training Program?

The MBON maintains a list of approved programs, which you can find here.

How Do I Sign Up for the GNA Exam?

The Credentia Nurse Aide Credentialing Services and the Maryland Geriatric Nursing Assistant Testing Service (MDGNATS) proctor the GNA exam. The MBON website provides more details on how to sign up for the examination.

Once you’ve completed the exam, Credentia will notify you and MBON of your results. You are not required to apply for a GNA designation. If you pass the exam, the GNA designation will appear next to your name for online verification. The estimated processing time is 21 days. 

What Are the Typical GNA Job Duties?

Geriatric nursing assistant job duties may vary depending on the work setting, but in general, as a GNA, you can expect the following responsibilities on the job:

  • Provide patient assistance with personal hygiene, toileting, eating, and dressing.
  • Assist with patient transfers (from bed to chair, etc.)
  • Perform basic nursing care as delegated by the supervising RN or licensed practical nurse (LPN).
  • Ensure patients’ rooms are tidy and clean.
  • Document patient activities, vitals, and professional observations about patient mood and condition.
  • Receive and conduct shift handover reports at the beginning and end of each shift.

What’s the Average GNA Salary?

The BLS does not separate CNAs from GNAs in its occupational profiles. Furthermore, not all states have a separate GNA designation. Nevertheless, as previously stated, GNAs are nursing assistants. As such, we can look at the wage data provided by the BLS for nursing assistants in Maryland, which shows they earned an annual mean wage of $37,180 or an hourly mean wage of $17.87 in 2022. GNAs looking to make more per hour can pick up high-paying per diem shifts with Nursa.

How Do I Find Jobs as a GNA in Maryland?

Geriatric nursing assistants can work in almost any healthcare setting, including the following:

Because GNAs are trained and certified first as CNAs with special training for elderly care, their skill set is more specialized, giving them a competitive edge. One of the best ways to find GNA jobs is to sign up with Nursa, an open healthcare marketplace that connects healthcare professionals like you to high-paying per diem jobs near you.

How Does Nursa Work?

Nursa connects RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and GNAs to available per diem shifts at facilities in need. Download the app, create a professional profile, verify your GNA certification, and search for GNA shifts near you. Join Nursa today and start earning more.

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