What is a Nursing Assistant: The Requirements and Duties of the Job

what is a nursing assistant

The medical field is ripe with well-paying jobs. If you are looking for a new career path, or if you are still in school wondering what path to choose, you should consider a job in the medical field.

And no, that doesn’t mean you have to spend 10 years in college becoming a doctor. There are many other jobs available that require far less schooling.

Think about hospitals and neighborhood clinics. There’s usually only a handful of doctors, while the rest of the staff is made up of administrators, secretaries, nurses, and nursing assistants.

What is a nursing assistant? It’s one of the most accessible and in-demand jobs in the medical field. Getting trained as a nursing assistant doesn’t take too long. It doesn’t take a huge financial commitment, and it virtually guarantees you a decent-paying job anywhere in the country.

Keep reading to learn more about nursing assistant duties as well as how to become a certified nursing assistant.

Why Nurses Need Assistants

Most of the day-to-day patient operations in a hospital or clinic revolve around the work of nurses. Typically, they are the ones to get patients situated in the room, gathering information about the patient and any symptoms they are having.

They gather as much information as they can before making a quick report, handing that to the doctor. They’ll also perform many of the basic tasks such as drawing blood, giving shots and immunizations, and much more.

As a result, nurses are very busy. They are really the ones running the clinic. And they, too, need all the help they can get, which is where assistants come in handy.

Becoming a nurse is a great option as well, but it requires more training, takes longer, and demands a lot more on the job. If you’d like to dip your toes in the water, so to speak, to see if the medical field is right for you, becoming a nurse aide is the easiest, lowest commitment way of doing that.

What Is a Nursing Assistant and What Do They Do?

So what are the typical tasks associated with being a certified nursing assistant, or CNA? First and foremost, they operate under the direct supervision of a registered nurse, or RN.

Their main responsibilities are patient care. Often, nursing assistants work in long-term care facilities. They visit with patients, ensuring they are doing okay. They chat and keep them company, as long-term care is often very lonely.

They may help disabled patients with basic tasks like getting dressed or bathing. You may also be responsible for distributing medications to patients.

Nurse aides are also familiar with medical software, billing systems, and keeping and updating medical records. From hospitals to long-term care facilities, CNA job descriptions can vary.

But the most important thing to know is that a CNA is patient-focused. Your job is ultimately talking to, listening to, and caring for patients directly. Compassion and sympathy are vital to success in this job.

How to Become a Nursing Assistant

Wondering what it takes to become a nursing assistant? Want to know if you need schooling for a nurse’s aid job?

The benefit of becoming a nursing assistant, as opposed to most other jobs in the medical field, is that you don’t need a college degree. You simply need to have graduated high school or hold a GED.

Then, you need to take relevant training courses and pass a certification exam. In some states, you may also need to get a license as well before you can get a job.

Nursing Assistant Training

There are numerous ways to get trained and educated as a nursing assistant. But you can expect to sign up for, and participate in an in-person class.

You can take a nurse aide course at a local community college, at a vocational school, or at a nursing-specific school. Some organizations also offer nurse aid training, such as the American Red Cross, as do some hospitals and nursing homes.

The benefit of receiving training directly from a hospital or nursing home is that it’s often free to take the training and may guarantee you a job upon completion.

Whichever course you take, make sure it allows you to work in all 50 states so that in the event you ever move to a new state, you’ll still be able to get a job without having to go through another training course.

Nursing Assistant Certification

Once you’ve finished the educational component, you need to get certified in the state you plan to work in. Your state’s nursing board is typically in charge of this process.

Look up your state’s certification requirements to see when and how you can take the certification exam. In some states, the exam is free, while in others it can cost a hundred dollars or more.

Upon completing the exam, it can take quite a few weeks before receiving your results back. If you fail, you may have to wait a month or longer before retaking it. Plus, you’ll probably have to pay the exam fees again.

It’s best to take your time to study and prepare the first time around, as it can save you months of time and hundreds of dollars.

Getting a Nursing Assistant Job

So you’ve passed your test, congratulations! Now it’s time to get a job and start earning a living while taking care of others.

The facilities that offer nursing assistant jobs can vary. Determine your preferences and apply for the most relevant positions. In a long-term care facility, you will spend a lot of time with older patients, helping with basic tasks like feeding, dressing, bathing, and keeping them company.

In hospitals, you’ll be checking vitals, checking patients in, updating medical records, and so forth. Hospitals can be a much faster-paced environment than a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Luckily, these jobs are in demand, so once you have your certification, getting hired shouldn’t be too difficult.

Working a Fulfilling Job

So what is a nursing assistant? It could be your path forward into the medical field. With the lowest time and financial commitment required, becoming a nursing assistant can help you get a well-paying, rewarding job without having to have a college degree.

Not only can you earn a good income, but your job revolves around taking care of other people. Talk about a fulfilling job.

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What is a Nursing Assistant: The Requirements and Duties of the Job

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