Wherever there is a need for personal care, nursing assistants (NA), or nurses’ aides, are there. Nursing assistants work in nursing homes, home care, assisted living, Hospice, hospitals, community based long-term care, correctional institutions, and other long-term care settings.
Nursing assistants help patients of all ages perform the most basic daily tasks. They work under a licensed nurse’s supervision, and since they have extensive daily contact with each patient, they play a key role in the lives of their patients and in keeping the nurse up to date on vital information about the patients’ conditions.
Nursing assistants provide assistance with such tasks as:
- Bathing and skin care
- Mouth and hair care
- Making beds
- Toileting assistance and catheter care
- Bowel and bladder care
- Taking vital signs (temp, pulse, blood pressures etc)
- Helping patients walk with gait belts, walker, cane and other devices
- Assisting with range-of-motion exercises
- Transfer wheelchair-bound patients using safe patient handling devices
- Turning and positioning bedridden patients regularly
- Reporting all changes to the nurse
- Safety awareness
- Observing, reporting and documentation
- Post-mortem care
FEDERAL LAW (OBRA 87U) requires that nursing assistants who work in nursing homes to pass a state test, be state-approved and be listed on the state registry. Nursing assistants may be certified (CNA), registered (RNA), licensed (LNA) or state tested and approved (STNA).
Due to staffing shortages in recent years, a vast majority of nursing assistants find themselves in the challenging position of attempting to provide quality care for far too many patients at once. The turnover rate for nursing assistants is high, due largely to the job’s heavy workload and physical demands.
Salary Range and Outlook
Salaries for this career vary from state to state, and even in differing work environments. Hourly wages can range from $8.80 to $16.99.
Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical practice. These programs are found in high schools, community colleges, vocational and technical schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
In addition, nursing assistants typically complete a brief period of supervised on-the-job training to learn about their specific employer’s policies and procedures.
A registered nurse generally teaches the classes. The length of training depends on the program. The classes offer the basics of what to expect with the job; however, this is a career in which skill levels and confidence dramatically improve once the nursing assistant becomes involved in the daily routine of actual caregiving.
Learn More About a Career as a Nurses Aide/Nursing Assistant
- Watch a video profile of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants (located in the Health Science category).