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What is a CNA?

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is mainly responsible for providing basic care to patients and assisting them with such activities as bathing or dressing if they can’t handle them on their own.

With the personal nature of the duties, a CNA needs to have people skills, be compassionate, and enjoy helping other people.

CNA is usually the main caregiver for patients in such facilities like nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

CNAs use medical technology, such as medical record charting software, billing software, and health information software.

Some facilities allow CNAs to administer medications to patients, but that typically depends on the level of experience, training, and the regulations of the state.

CNAs work under the supervision of either a licensed practical/vocational nurse or registered nurse.

They need excellent communication skills since they are responsible for bringing all patient issues and concerns to the supervisor.

What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Job Description Consist Of?

CNAs assist patients with their daily activities.

Some CNAs may have other responsibilities, such as administering medications.

The main duties of a CNA include:

  • Take vital signs.
  • Answer patient calls.
  • Bathe and dress patients.
  • Provide and empty bedpans.
  • Change bed sheets and restock rooms with necessary supplies.
  • Lift patients into beds, wheelchairs, exam tables, etc.
  • Serve meals and help patients eat.
  • Clean and sanitize patient areas.
  • Collect information about conditions and treatment plans from caregivers, nurses, and doctors.
  • Turn or reposition bedridden patients.
  • Examine patients for bruises, blood in the urine, or other injuries/wounds.

CNAs act as a liaison between doctors, nurses, and patients and communicate and record all issues to medical personnel.

Depending on the workplace of a CNA, they may have other duties, including moving patients to treatment units or operating rooms or setting up equipment on the request of a doctor or a nurse.

Future CNAs should keep in mind that this job can be graphic at times and isn’t glamorous.

CNAs may face challenges every day, from cleaning a patient after accidents to dressing wounds.

What Education or Certification Will I Need to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Contrary to other nursing professions, CNAs don’t need a bachelor’s or master’s degree to practice.

However, formal training from a postsecondary certificate program is required.

The training usually combines basic nursing principles with hands-on supervised clinical experience.

The training is available through community and vocational colleges, technical schools, nursing homes, and some hospitals.

After completing a CNA program, candidates should also pass a competency exam, after which they will be listed in the state registry.

You can acquire more specific information about the requirements to become a CNA from your state’s board of nursing.

Some states require continuing education or criminal background check.

Many CNAs face burn out, so you may want to advance your career in another direction.

In this case, an associate degree can be the first step to becoming a registered nurse.

What Career Paths Can I Take as a Certified Nursing Assistant?

CNAs can work in local, state, or private hospitals.

However, more often, they are employed in long-term care facilities or nursing homes.

You may have to work irregular hours, such as nights, holidays, or weekends.

Nursing and long-term care facilities:

Disabled and aging people require long-term care, so CNAs are in demand.

If you plan to work as a CNA for a long time, working in a facility like this is a perfect option for you.

According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, 28% of CNAs work in this position for 5 or more years while 13% work from 10 to 55 years.

In a long-term care facility or nursing home, you can establish relations with patients and have job security.

However, according to the BLS, many CNAs continue their education or change jobs because of the physical and emotional toll they take.


While the duties are similar, in hospitals, CNAs don’t spend as much time with the same patient since they usually stay for only a few days in the hospital.

However, the working environment in a hospital is more fast-paced.

In a hospital, CNAs can also gain experience in various departments, such as ER.

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