A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, works under the supervision of nurses to deliver high quality care to patients. The job requires long hours and many responsibilities, but caring for patients on a daily basis provides some of the greatest rewards any profession could offer. Not to mention, the skills you learn as a certified nursing assistant can prepare you for a long-term career in the nursing field.
Certified nursing assistants help patients with their basic needs. Generally, this means helping them bathe, dress and feed themselves. These patients might include stroke victims, the elderly residents of nursing homes, or individuals recovering from an accident, injuries or surgeries in a hospital.
From temperature to blood pressure, some CNAs are responsible for taking and recording patient vital signs. Routine tasks such as these are typically the initial steps of a patient’s visit to a physician’s office or hospital, which means the CNA has the responsibility of making a positive first impression for the medical team.
In line with meeting patients’ basic needs, duties of a certified nursing assistant often include serving meals to patients, making beds and helping clean rooms. This can mean cleaning out bedpans and changing soiled sheets. It also means getting the chance to have regular, one-on-one contact with patients—the compassionate relationships that can help people make it through times of illness with dignity.
Storing and setting up medical equipment might involve laying out tools for the next patient exam or perhaps moving heavy medical equipment from one room to another. Some states allow CNA’s who have had the appropriate training to assist with or perform some medical procedures, such as drawing blood.
Working so closely with patients on a daily basis, CNAs observe not only the obvious changes in a patient’s physical condition but the subtleties of their emotional state. That intuition can have immeasurable impact on helping patients make it through a trying recovery or come to terms with a long-term condition.
Whether they take a patient’s blood pressure before the doctor comes in, bring them breakfast in the morning or simply listen, CNAs make a significant difference to the quality of care patients receive.