When most people think of hospitals and clinics, doctors and nurses immediately come to mind. While they may get the most attention, a lot of the work that goes into keeping a health care facility running smoothly and efficiently falls on the shoulders of a CNA. Tasks such as patient care, responding to special requests, and correctly communicating important information to other staff members fall within a CNA’s scope of practice.
Certified Nursing Assistant Job Description and Duties
Almost no two CNA job descriptions are ever going to be exactly alike but the main tasks and daily assignments are often similar. The primary duty of a certified nursing assistant is to serve as a caregiver. This can include all of the little details that can make a patient feel comfortable and at ease while under the care of medical professionals. The setting could be a nursing home, clinic, hospital, or even a specialty care facility. A CNA’s daily responsibilities typically include assisting with personal care such as getting dressed, moving to and from treatment rooms, bathing, eating, and adjusting beds for comfort.
When dealing with patients who are elderly or recovering from a surgical procedure, duties can involve helping with exercise, lifting them in and out of bed, or preparing them to travel off-site.
One of the most important duties in any environment is to act as the eyes and ears for doctors and nurses on duty. This means providing patient observation, taking and recording vital signs, and often being the first to respond to a patient call or question.
Above all else, a nursing assistant must be caring and compassionate towards others. Getting medical treatment can be stressful and scary for patients of any age so patience and a sincere concern for the well-being of others are essential. The second most important skill for a certified nursing assistant to have is effective communication.
While there are no specific physical requirements that every nursing assistant must possess, above average strength and endurance can be a big plus. The fast-paced nature of the job requires long hours standing and walking with very short periods of rest during the course on an average shift. Helping a patient stand or sit up can also demand a strong upper-body to ensure the patient’s safety and to guard against injury.
Last but not least, timeliness and personal responsibility are expected from day one. When the care of others is at stake, there is no room staff members who are not dependable. Here is a sample job description from the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. This valuable resource provides projected growth data along with a side-by-side comparison of similar occupations.
Education and Prerequisites
Becoming a CNA is a simple and straightforward process. Program candidates must have a high school diploma or GED before applying for a state-approved training program. The curriculum consists of a combination of classroom study and supervised on-the-job training that can be completed in six to twelve weeks. The standard varies by state but a total of 50 to 75 hours of experience in a live clinical setting is usually required before a candidate is eligible to take the certification exam. Some states may also perform a background check using a fingerprint card to screen nursing assistants and other health professionals.
Once a student has successfully passed the exam and is granted full certification, several hours of continuing education credits must be completed every few years to stay up to date on current information and safety regulations.