What Does a Nurse Assistant Do? Top Reasons To Become One

What Does a Nurse Assistant Do? Top Reasons To Become One

A certified nursing assistant helps patients with their day-to-day activities by providing basic care. Many of them work under a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) in hospitals or nursing homes.

In most cases, the nursing assistant is the primary caregiver for the patient they work with. Needless to say, this job requires a lot of empathy and understanding.

What does a nurse assistant do?

Nurse and elderly women in light room

Nursing assistants perform a variety of jobs. For example, they are responsible for measuring the vital signs of a patient. They also help bedridden patients eat, bathe, and get dressed. A CNA is usually the main contact for the patient throughout the day. They spend hours with the patient and offer them all the emotional support they need.

Depending upon institutional regulations, a nursing assistant may also have to assume additional responsibilities, such as administering medicine. The job of a nursing assistant is emotionally rewarding because of their ability to enhance the quality of life of their patients.

After working as a certified nursing assistant for a few years, you have the option to pursue a career in nursing. Registered nurses can earn much more than nursing assistants.

A nursing assistant’s job is a little different from that of a medical assistant. CNAs work in hospitals and nursing homes and are responsible for giving direct care to their patients. They work under a registered nurse. Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative jobs whereas nursing assistants are primarily involved with patient care.

Some of them may also perform administrative jobs like scheduling appointments and entering patient data correctly into the system. However, administrative jobs are rarely the primary concern of a nursing assistant.

Certified nursing assistants are also not the same as registered or licensed practical nurses (LPNs). To work as a CNA you only need some training and certification. LPNs, on the other hand, have to take some additional classes and pass the licensing exam NCLEX.

What qualifications are required to be a CNA?

Young female doctor and practitioner working at the reception desk, she is answering phone calls and scheduling appointments

A high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum qualification required to be a CNA. To be certified, you also have to complete an education program approved by the state.

CNA classes are usually available at community colleges, high schools, hospitals, and vocational schools. You can complete the training in just three weeks.

The training program will teach you many of the basic skills required for a nurse. For example, you will learn how to check the vital signs of patients and administer CPR. You will also learn to move patients safely, care for their personal hygiene, and ensure their safety. Working as a CNA is a highly rewarding job.

It gives you an opportunity to make a difference to sick people and spread a smile on their faces. Some people choose a job in this field to see whether nursing is the right calling for them. This is particularly important because, to be an RN or an LPN, you have to invest considerably more time and money. If you do not enjoy your job as a CNA, you will not enjoy being a nurse either.

The job of a CNA can be demanding at times. You have to pay constant attention to the needs of your patients. This is particularly critical for CNAs working in settings like hospitals, where a medical emergency can occur at any time.

A good CNA should possess the following qualities.


Asian caregiver doctor using digital pressure gauge measuring blood pressure of elderly woman patient Young female nurse in uniform gives consultation during home visit.

As a CNA, you are providing care to a patient who may be going through a difficult health situation. You should be able to win their trust and make them comfortable so that they can confide in you. You should possess good listening skills and empathy.


You have to follow the patient’s treatment plan to ensure their speedy recovery. This requires attention to detail and patience.

Good time management

Oftentimes, you are working with multiple patients and receive little supervision. You have to be properly organized to be able to provide optimal care to your patients.

Ability to perform under stress

In the medical field, emergencies can happen at any time. A CNA should be able to act calmly in such situations without further elevating the stress levels of the patient or their relatives.

Good observational skills

As a nursing assistant, you are the primary care provider for your patient. That means you spend more time with them than with their nurse or doctor. This close proximity to the patient also enables you to notice and report even minute changes to their physical or mental health.

Career path

young caregiver helping elderly woman on wheelchair

For many people, working as a nursing assistant is their entry point to a more lucrative nursing profession. This job will give you hands-on experience and teach you many skills required for nurses. When you work as a nursing assistant, you will understand what it is like to work in the healthcare sector. Needless to say, many CNAs eventually choose to become LPNs or RNs.

A nursing assistant is a crucial part of the healthcare team. An efficient nursing assistant plays a major role in ensuring that the patient has a speedy recovery. As they spend hours with the patient on a regular basis, they are in a position to give the patient much-needed emotional support in addition to physical care.

CNAs work under the supervision of a medical professional or a registered nurse. Their job includes attending to the basic needs of multiple patients on any given day. They have to provide help with bathing, dressing, and eating. They are also responsible for moving the patient safely and recording their vital signs.

In addition, it is their duty to ensure that the patient consumes adequate amounts of food and water. They are also required to report any changes in the emotional or physical condition of the patient to the doctor. An experienced nursing assistant can assume additional responsibilities such as dispensing medicine.

In order to be a nursing assistant, you have to complete a certificate program approved by your state. Requirements can vary from state to state. In general, these certificate programs will involve classroom learning, and on-the-job training. After completing the exam, you have to take a competency test.

Those who have passed the competency test are then placed on the registry of certified nursing assistants maintained by their state. They can start looking for employment opportunities in nursing homes, hospitals, or other healthcare centers.

In certain states, there may be additional requirements. For example, they may perform a background check or require the CNA to undergo training throughout their career.

7 Reasons to Become a CNA

Embarking on a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is an excellent choice for individuals who are passionate about providing care and making a difference in the lives of patients. CNAs serve an integral role within the healthcare sector, and their work is highly rewarding. Let’s explore seven key reasons to become a CNA, shedding light on the various aspects of this fulfilling and meaningful profession.

1. Essential Role in Patient Care

Nurse assistants play an indispensable role in providing basic care to patients. Responsibilities include bathing, dressing, and feeding patients, ensuring their comfort and safety throughout their stay in healthcare facilities.

2. Close Monitoring of Patient Conditions

In addition to providing care, nurse assistants also closely monitor patients’ conditions and report any changes to the nurse. This close observation helps detect potential health issues early and ensures appropriate care is provided.

3. Patient Transportation Responsibilities

Another important part of a CNA’s job is transporting patients to and from appointments. Nurse assistants ensure patients arrive safely and on time, making their healthcare experience more comfortable and stress-free.

4. Stress Management and Adaptability

Nurse assistants often work long hours and sometimes on rotating shifts. They must handle stress well and be adaptable as they support a wide range of patients in varying healthcare settings.

5. Physical Demands of the Job

The job of a nurse assistant can be physically demanding, involving a lot of moving and lifting patients. This aspect of the role requires CNAs to maintain physical fitness and stamina to provide the best possible care for their patients.

6. Importance of Communication Skills

Good communication skills are essential for nurse assistants, as they interact with patients and their families daily. CNAs need to be able to listen, empathize, and clearly convey important information to ensure patients’ needs are met and families stay informed.

7. Career Growth Opportunities

Becoming a CNA is often the first step in a rewarding healthcare career. With experience and further education, some nurse assistants choose to advance into nursing or other healthcare professions. This field offers vast opportunities for growth and development, making it a smart choice for individuals passionate about patient care.

What are the career prospects for a nursing assistant?

Employment opportunities for nursing assistants are expected to increase over the coming years. According to some studies, in 2014, the number of certified nursing assistants was over 1.5 million. By 2024, the number of job opportunities is expected to increase by 17%.

The US population is aging. The situation is not different in other countries either. An aging population requires more assistance with their day-to-day lives, and this increases the job opportunities available for nursing assistants.

Before starting your journey as a CNA in McAllen, it’s crucial to select the right CNA training program that fits your needs and schedule. A quality CNA program will not only provide the necessary theoretical knowledge and hands-on clinical training but also prepare you for the state certification exam. Research various options, consider factors such as program length, costs, and the reputation of the institution before making your decision. By investing in a reputable CNA program, you lay a solid foundation for a successful and rewarding career in healthcare.

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