What are Certified Nursing Assistants and What Do They Do?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) works in the medical field in places like clinics, hospitals or laboratories.

Certified Nursing Assistants work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse. In general, they perform the same duties regardless of the place of their assignment. They are usually the ones assigned to do regular hospital rounds, making sure that the patient receives the quality care that is expected. The overall duty of a CNA is demanding in terms of effort and time. A successful CNA candidate should possess abilities such as a strong work ethic, reliability, and patience in performing the responsibilities described below.

CNA Job Description

A CNA is always in direct contact with patients which is why it is expected that he performs tasks such as profiling of age, gender, ethnicity, medical history, and other pertinent information which may have a link to the patient’s current health status. He is also responsible for administering medications as advised by the attending physician or the supervising nurse and conducts other treatments like catheterizations, irrigations, massages, suppositories, or douches. He should cleanse and sanitize patient rooms, laboratories, bathrooms, and other places where the patient has direct contact. This prevents hospital-borne infectious diseases.

Although CNA duties are less complicated than that of certified nurses or medical aides, they are expected to accomplish tasks in a speedy manner as there are hundreds of patients to be attended to. They may also be assigned to storing, ordering, and managing inventory of supplies. Most CNAs have long-term tenure in hospitals which gives way to their close relationship with patients. For patients with temporary or permanent disability, CNAs are expected to assist them in bathing, dressing, answering phone calls, even in doing light exercises like walking and stretching. And because most of them do the rounds, they are also assigned to monitor patient’s vital signs and are in charge of taking the blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate, and temperature, and record them accordingly.

Another responsibility of a CNA is feeding the patients. More often than not, they prepare the patient’s food, deliver these to the room, and if the patient is unable to feed himself, the CNA shall assist him.

CNAs in Comparison with Other Health Professionals

Orderlies are hospital attendants whose responsibilities are limited to non-medical care. Oftentimes, they are tasked with the maintenance of general operations. They do not need to obtain a health degree because they have limited interaction with patients. On the other hand, psychiatric aides have similar work nature to that of CNAs, except that the former works in psychiatric wards and other mental institutions. Therefore, their orientation and manner of dealing with patients vary. Medical assistants also take part in the duty of CNAs to take patient’s vital signs. But with the level of training, CNAs have more superiority and are more skilled in handling patients than medical assistants.

In some instances, CNAs are often mistaken for orderlies, psychiatric aides, and medical assistants. It is important to know their differences in terms of job description so you know which position you are going to apply to. Becoming a CNA is a fulfilling career knowing that you are helping those who are in need of medical assistance.