What Does a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) Do?

Certified Nursing AssistantA Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a licensed professional who is responsible for assisting members of a nursing staff in the care of patients and related activities. CNAs can be found working in any number of facilities where nursing staff can be found. These include hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, hospices, and private care facilities. CNAs perform basic care tasks for patients.  These include taking vitals, lifting patients, helping patients with bathroom tasks, cleaning up after patients, and many others.

Training Required of a CNA

Most CNAs are trained in a combination of coursework and hands on duties.  They receive their training in colleges, universities, and private vocational schools. The coursework required can take from a few weeks to several months, depending on the level of education required. Many of these courses are taught by Registered Nurses (RNs), who also often administer the licensing examinations upon completion of the course.

Duties of a CNA

A CNA is responsible for meeting many of the personal care needs of their patients.  These tasks entail such routine items as feeding, bathing, and lifting patients. CNAs also perform tasks that contribute to the esteem of patients by assisting them with brushing their hair and helping them in the bathroom. A CNA will also be called upon to take vital signs and record the information on appropriate charting paperwork.

Long-Term Care

In facilities that are primarily for long-term patient care, CNAs assist in the work of orderlies who lift and move patients, change bedding, turn patients to avoid bed sores, and other issues. A CNA may be assigned to be the first responder to calls from patients who are seeking help. As a result of the disparate responsibilities of a CNA, these professionals are required to not only be able to handle the duties of a skilled nurse, but must also be able to muster the human aspects of nursing, often under the most adverse conditions.

Nursing Skills

CNAs are often called upon to perform more skilled nursing tasks such as helping patients with breathing exercises, exercising patients who are elderly, paralyzed, or in comas. CNAs are often sent to private homes to teach caregivers how to administer medication, perform exercises, and carry out other necessary tasks for patients who have transferred to private home care after hospital stays, especially those with long-term disabling conditions.

Augmenting Care

If the duties of a CNA sound like they often mirror nursing, it’s because in many cases they do. In fact, many of the tasks performed by CNAs are intended to be of support to RNs and other staff members. Especially in light of the high patient to nurse ratio due to nurse shortages, CNAs can perform a valuable service to fill disparities.

Although the training and educational requirements for CNAs are not as extensive as other nursing staff, CNAs still provide valuable services to patients and other staff members. As a result, nurse shortages are not as extensively felt and have contributed significantly to easing problems administering patient care and helping to make nursing much less stressful for everyone involved in the healthcare industry.