Career Development

What Does a Nursing Assistant Do?

Find out what a nursing assistant does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a nursing assistant.

Nursing assistants are the frontline workers in the healthcare industry. They provide vital support to registered nurses and doctors, helping to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Nursing assistants perform a wide range of tasks, from taking vital signs and recording patient information to bathing, feeding, and dressing patients who cannot do these things themselves. They may also assist with medical procedures such as administering medication or performing physical therapy exercises.

Nursing Assistant Job Duties

Nursing assistants have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Observing patients for changes in mood, behavior, or physical condition, including reporting significant changes to physicians or other healthcare professionals
  • Providing support to patients by assisting them with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, and providing medication when indicated
  • Communicating with patients’ families and loved ones about patients’ conditions, progress, and needs
  • Recording vital signs such as temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, and weight
  • Cleaning and sterilizing equipment used in patient care and treatment, such as bedpans, syringes, and stethoscopes
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens for testing
  • Performing basic nursing tasks such as changing dressings or bandages and administering medication
  • Preparing items for patient care such as linens, soaps, and sprays
  • Providing direct patient care and supporting nursing staff in caring for patients in any setting where nursing services are provided, such as hospitals, clinics, or private homes

Nursing Assistant Salary & Outlook

Nursing assistant salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $36,000 ($17.31/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of nursing assistants is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

The primary reason for this growth is the large aging population. As people age, they are more likely to develop health problems that require medical care. In addition, many baby boomers want to continue working later in life and will need nursing assistants to provide care in retirement communities or in their homes.

Nursing Assistant Job Requirements

Nursing assistants typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: All nursing assistants are required to have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a nursing assistant program. These programs typically take six to eight months to complete and include both classroom and practical experience.

Training & Experience: Most employers require newly hired nursing assistants to complete a training program within the first few weeks of employment. These programs are usually part of the orientation process and may last for a few days to a few weeks. They teach new hires the basics of the job, including how to bathe, feed and dress patients, how to administer medications and how to keep accurate patient records.

Certifications & Licenses: Nursing assistants need to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid. Some states also require assistants to be licensed. The certification and licensing requirements vary by state, so it is important to check the requirements in your area.

Nursing Assistant Skills

Nursing assistants need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of exchanging information with others. Nursing assistants must be able to communicate with patients, doctors, other medical staff and patients’ families. Effective communication skills can help you to understand instructions, answer questions and explain medical procedures.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Nursing assistants should have empathy to help patients feel comfortable and cared for. For example, if a patient is nervous about a procedure, a nursing assistant with empathy might be able to calm them down and make them feel more comfortable.

Organization: As a nursing assistant, you may be responsible for keeping track of multiple patients’ medical records, medications, treatments and other important information. Having excellent organizational skills can help you keep track of everything and ensure that you are providing the right care to your patients.

Dependability: Being dependable means that you can be trusted to complete your work on time and to the best of your ability. Nursing assistants should be able to complete their tasks on time and to the best of their ability. This is important because it allows the nursing staff to provide quality care to their patients.

Attention to detail: Nursing assistants must have excellent attention to detail to ensure they are providing patients with the correct medications, entering the correct information into patient files and recording accurate information in patient charts. Attention to detail is also important when following a treatment plan to ensure the patient is receiving the correct treatment.

Nursing Assistant Work Environment

Nursing assistants typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. They may also work in clinics, physicians’ offices, and home health care services. Nursing assistants usually work on rotating shifts that include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. They may work full time or part time, and some may have to work overtime. Nursing assistants have physically demanding jobs and are on their feet for most of their shifts. They may be exposed to infectious diseases and hazardous materials, and they may be required to lift and move patients.

Nursing Assistant Trends

Here are three trends influencing how nursing assistants work. Nursing assistants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Registered Nurses

The nursing assistant profession is in high demand, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities are increasingly looking to hire more registered nurses. This trend is due to the increasing complexity of medical procedures, which requires more support from nurses.

As a nursing assistant, you can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in additional areas, such as geriatrics or emergency care. This will make you more attractive to employers and help you find work in a variety of settings.

More Focus on Patient Care

As the health care industry continues to evolve, there is an increasing focus on patient care. This means that nursing assistants will need to be able to provide more complex care to patients.

Nursing assistants can adapt to this trend by becoming more knowledgeable about different types of care, such as wound care or medication management. They can also focus on developing skills that will make them more valuable to employers, such as communication or customer service.

A Growing Demand for Home Health Care

The home health care industry is growing rapidly, as more and more people are choosing to receive care in their own homes. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as it provides many benefits for both patients and caregivers.

As the home health care industry grows, nursing assistants will be in high demand. They will be needed to provide care to patients in their homes, as well as to assist with tasks such as laundry and cooking.

How to Become a Nursing Assistant

There are many different paths you can take to become a nursing assistant. You can start by completing an online or in-person training program, or you can get started on the job with on-the-job training. No matter which path you choose, it’s important to make sure that the training program meets state requirements and is accredited by the National League of Nursing.

Once you have your certification, you can continue to build your skills by taking continuing education courses and attending workshops and conferences. You can also network with other nurses and nursing assistants and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the industry.

Related: How to Write a Nursing Assistant Resume

Advancement Prospects

Nursing assistants may advance to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs). Some states allow nursing assistants to become LPNs after completing a brief period of on-the-job training, although most LPN programs last about 1 year. To become an RN, candidates must complete a 2- or 4-year degree program in nursing. Some nursing assistants may wish to pursue a career in another health-related field, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or medical technology.

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