Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) play a key role in any type of healthcare team. In fact, CNAs interact closely with patients to provide them the essential care they need. The main responsibilities in the CNA job description are maintaining the patients’ personal hygiene and providing them with intimate assistance during their recovery.
In this article, we will provide potential candidates with a detailed look at the job description of a CNA. We will focus on the main requirements and responsibilities that come with this position. In addition, we will offer essential information about the certification process that CNA candidates must complete, as well as their career prospects and financial compensation.
CNA Job Description Overview
Certified nursing assistants are healthcare specialists who ensure that the patients’ basic needs are met at all times. They will help them with baths and meals and they will monitor them on a daily basis to ensure that their recovery process is going as best as possible.
Job seekers should know that the financial compensation for this entry level healthcare job is not very high. However, it is a very rewarding job because CNA’s get to create bonds with their patients and rejoice with them as they recover.
Moreover, a CNA job can be the first step on a long term career path in the medical field. This certification period for this profession is quite short (4-12 weeks), which is an excellent advantage. Then, CNAs can pursue more advanced degrees in the healthcare industry.
They can specialize in fields like hospice care, assisted living, or geriatric assistance. Another alternative is continuing their studies and earning degrees in Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BsN).
CNAs are essential healthcare providers who assist patients at a very intimate level. Their main objective is to make sure that the patients’ basic needs are met so that their recovery can have the best possible results. The job description of a CNA includes the following objectives:
Good personal hygiene is one of the fundamental requirements of a successful recovery plan. However, numerous patients are physically unable to clean themselves properly during their recovery. CNAs are there to help them do this by performing the following tasks:
- Giving baths/ sponge baths;
- Giving/ emptying bedpans and urinals;
- Assisting patients with traveling to the bathroom;
- Helping patients on and off toilets;
- Assisting patients with grooming (nail care, shaving, shampooing);
- Helping patients with their oral hygiene (helping them brush their teeth correctly);
- Helping patients to take showers/ baths;
- Assisting patients with changing their clothes;
CNAs will assist patients while eating their meals so that they get the proper nutrition during their recovery. They will follow the instructions provided by doctors and nurses for each of their patients. These are the main responsibilities included in the CNA job description:
- Serving meals to patients;
- Feeding patients as instructed (if necessary);
- Retrieving plates and cutlery after the patients have finished their meals;
- Monitoring what the patients eat and how much they eat;
This is one of the main responsibilities of certified nursing assistants. They are required to stay up to date with the latest infection control techniques. In fact, they must implement these techniques efficiently to prevent the spread of germs in the healthcare facility. These are the main responsibilities they must carry out:
- Disposing of soiled linens correctly;
- Changing bed linens on a daily basis, and when these get soiled;
- Disposing of medical materials correctly (after medical procedures);
- Cleaning and sanitizing patient areas according to a fixed schedule and whenever necessary outside it;
Since CNAs interact with patients directly, they are in charge of monitoring their behavior and their recovery process. Then, they will provide nurses with a full report on their patients. These are the main responsibilities included in the CNA job description:
- Taking vital signs according to a fixed schedule;
- Weighs patients according to a fixed schedule;
- Performs skin assessment on a daily basis and notifies RN of any abnormalities in skin integrity (bruises, cuts, injuries);
- Collects samples from patients (stool, urine, sputum) according to protocol and labels them;
- Provides daily patient reports to RN;
- Informs RN immediately if a patient’s state becomes critical;
A CNA must have an excellent bedside manner because they must motivate patients to be invested in their recovery. In fact, it is crucial that they address patients in a respectful manner at all times. They must show empathy and provide patients with the emotional comfort they need during their recovery.
Adjunct Care and Administering Treatments
CNAs perform basic procedures on patients as part of their daily responsibilities. However, they do require special training to do this. As such, only advanced CNAs perform the following responsibilities:
- Changing nonsterile dressings;
- Performing enemas;
- Surgical prep techniques (cleaning, sanitizing, shaving);
- Applying ice packs and heat treatments;
- Giving patients therapeutic baths;
- Applying restraints (when instructed);
Certified nursing assistants impact their patients’ recovery process significantly. They help them perform basic activities and offer them the emotional comfort they need to get through their healing process. As such, this position comes with great responsibility. Here are the main requirements included in the CNA job description:
- Excellent multi-tasking skills;
- Ability to work as part of a medical team;
- Solid medical knowledge;
- Solid infection control notions;
- Excellent bedside manner;
- Empathy and compassion;
- Organization skills;
- Good communication skills;
- Physical ability to perform job responsibilities (include but are not limited to standing, bending, lifting, walking, pushing, pulling);
- Willingness to work night shifts, weekends, and holidays if necessary;
Qualifications and Training
The CNA job description is perfectly suited for passionate beginners looking to build a career in healthcare. In fact, this position does not require candidates to have Bachelor’s degrees, which is very convenient for young applicants. Here is the complete list of qualifications that CNAs need:
- CNA candidates must be at least 18 years old;
- A valid Certification for Nursing Assistants;
- A minimum experience of six months in a healthcare facility;
Candidates looking to get a CNA certification can apply for classes at vocational or technical schools, community colleges, hospitals, or other institutions such as the Red Cross. The duration of the programs varies 4 and 12 weeks depending on the format.
Furthermore, they can apply for day classes, as well as night and weekend classes to complete the course. At the end of the class, applicants must take an exam. The CNA exam features both a written component and practical component so that their theoretical and practical skills can be evaluated properly.
This comprehensive guide to becoming a CNA offers candidates detailed information about the classes, the examination process, and the best places where they can apply for CNA classes in their state of residence.
As this is an entry-level job in the healthcare sector, the salaries for CNAs are relatively low. According to Glassdoor, annual CNA salaries vary between $19,000 and $32,000. While the financial compensation may not be impressive, there are other advantageous aspects about this profession that candidates should take into consideration.
The most important of these is that getting certified only takes one to three months. Then, candidates can apply to state hospitals and healthcare facilities to complete their six-month mandatory experience.
As such, in seven to ten months, enthusiastic candidates can earn all the necessary credentials and qualifications necessary to meet the requirements of the CNA job description. Furthermore, they can then apply for further certifications, which will help them earn more money in the long term.
CNA Working Hours
According to the general CNA job description, nursing assistants typically work 8-hour shifts or 12-hour shifts. In fact, the specific duration of a shift depends on the nature of the healthcare facility and the work schedule they enforce.
In addition to the relatively long shifts, CNA candidates must be ready to work both day and night shifts. Patients need round the clock care and as such, hospitals, clinics, and all types of healthcare facilities require employees to work night shifts as well.
Moreover, candidates should also be ready to work extra hours every once in a while. Medical emergencies require a collective approach and all healthcare providers must be willing to take part in helping their patients, whenever this may be necessary.
As we have mentioned above, this is the ideal position to begin a long-term career in healthcare. In effect, a beginner CNA can earn significant experience in their time at various healthcare facilities. Then, they can continue their studies and earn new professional qualifications.
In fact, they can earn certifications for various types of healthcare facilities, such as hospice care centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. Furthermore, they can then enroll in more advanced medical courses and earn more advanced degrees.
The experience they will acquire as nursing assistants will help them thrive in their path to a more advanced healthcare profession. Here is a list of other degrees they can pursue:
- Medical Assistant
- Surgical Technologist
- Physical Therapy Aide
- Dental Assistant
- Home Health Aide
- Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN)
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Neonatal Nurse
Becoming a certified nursing assistant is an excellent opportunity to begin a successful career in healthcare. However, the delicate nature of the responsibilities featured in the CNA job description makes this position fit for people who genuinely want to help others and who are ready to go the extra mile to do this.
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