What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?

Certified nursing assistants help care for patients under the direction of registered nurses. Read on to learn about the duties, employment outlook and salary info for this career field. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work in many healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice facilities. They even provide healthcare in patients' homes. As a CNA, you perform a wide range of tasks to keep patients comfortable, usually under the supervision of a registered nurse. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) notes that, though this type of work can be tiring or unpleasant, many CNAs find it rewarding due to the positive effect they have on patients. Also, because many CNAs work in long-term care facilities, they often form close relationships with their patients.

Duties and Responsibilities

While specific duties vary depending on the type of facility in which you work, CNAs typically perform routine healthcare tasks. Most of these tasks are designed to help patients feel clean and safe, although you might also be responsible for handling and storing supplies. Performing these duties may require a great deal of patience and persistence, as well as a strong desire to help the ill.

Assisting Patients

Patients often need help performing daily functions that permanent disability or temporary incapacitation render difficult. As a CNA, you might help patients bathe, eat, answer the telephone, or get dressed. You may also be responsible for cleaning up bodily fluids and repositioning bedridden patients. CNAs are typically responsible for answering patients' call signals.

Monitoring Patients

The majority of healthcare procedures are left to nurses and doctors; however, some CNAs perform basic medical tasks. You might observe patients' progress and take vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, respiration rate, and pulse. You'll be expected to note any changes in a patient's condition and report these issues to doctors or registered nurses.

Cleaning Rooms

While custodial staff typically oversees the cleanliness of patients' rooms, CNAs also promote the welfare of patients by keeping their rooms tidy. CNAs may sanitize rooms and their contents when necessary. Other cleaning duties include making beds, emptying bedpans, and putting patients' personal items in cabinets.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the projected job growth for nursing assistants is 21% from 2012-2022. The BLS reported the mean annual wage for CNAs in May 2012 as $25,620. Nursing assistants employed by the federal government, postsecondary schools, and scientific research and development organizations made the most money in 2012, averaging more than $30,800 a year.

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