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What Is A CNA?

what is a CNAFor people with inherent passion to take care of other people despite their disability and age, becoming a certified nursing assistant commonly known as CNA is the best career.A certified nursing assistant is a person who has gone through the licensure examination for nursing assistants and passed. The job description of a certified nursing assistance requires the professional to provide health care needs for patients under the supervision of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs). The CNAs are trained on how to cater for the clients and patients in relation to medical attention and they can perform basic healthcare procedures under the Registered Nurses.

In simple terms, they are the healthcare practitioners who bridge the gap between the patients and professionals of a higher rank such as Registered nurses and doctors. The only difference between them is the fact that the CNA perform the health care practices on a more personal level as opposed to the other practitioners who handle general care.

Personal healthcare include such things are helping the patience in matters of hygiene, assisting those who cannot move, talking to the patients to keep them busy, administering medications under the consent of Registered nurses or doctors among many others. Most of the professionals in higher ranks need to see many patients and this is where the assistants come in. Some of the other things that a CNA does in a health facility include monitoring the patients and providing reports to their supervisor, meeting the patients’ needs and reporting any changes of the patients whether physical or emotional. The job is not a casual one as it has been recognized by the US Bureau of Labor statistics. It is believed that the CNAs are the closest to the patients since they spend a lot of time with the patients and thus are the best professionals to give the medical practitioners above them a conclusive report on the condition of the patients.

Certified nursing assistants are learned and can move up the ladder as they gain experience and add education to what they already have. Though they must work under supervision, they understanding the patients better and gain a great background if they ever get interested in a higher position such as a Registered Nurse or Doctor.

Roles And Responsibilities Of CNA

After answering the question what is a CNA It is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant which vary depending on where they are working. This is because the CNAs can work in different environments such as nursing homes, hospitals, adult day care facilities, personal homes, and assisted living centers. CNA can fit well in any healthcare facility that required assistive liaison between registered nurses and the patients. In simple terms the certified nursing assistants act as the bridge between patients and Registered Nurses .

CNAs are supposed to provide the basic healthcare needs of facility residents without considering ethnicity, age, or gender. Part of their responsibility is to provide a report on the well-being of the patients they are responsible of reporting any changes a patient makes whether on the negative or on the positive. They have constant contact with the patients and thus they are in a better position to observe what their supervisors have no time to. The workload of the CNA is not an easy one as most people would like to believe. This is because it is fast paced and sometimes highly demanding. Though this is the case, the job is highly rewarding especially for people who are passionate about helping other people have it easy in old age or in sickness.

Below are a few of the roles and responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant:

– Record the patients;’ vital signs

– Give a helping hand to the patient in things such as bathing, eating and any other activities they would like to undertake.

– Facilitate the transfer of a patient from a bed to a wheelchair and the other way round.

– Dispense medication. This is a according to their level of training and competency in handling such an issue. Otherwise, they do this under the consent of Registered Nurses or other authorities that can allow them to.

– Application of support materials such as bandages under the direction of a nurse or a doctor.

– Act as the communication channel between the patients and the supervisors.

– Keep all records of the events and activities revolving around the patient.

CNAs can go through the difficult roles and responsibilities only if they have a desire to help people. For this reason, the work of a certified nursing assistant is more of a passionate and dedication affair than it is a just career like many others.

How To Become a CNA

Becoming a certified nursing assistance starts with Education. This is because there are educational qualifications that will allow an individual take up the course in an institution such as a hospital, Red Cross offices, or selected colleges. There are prerequisites that an individual may need prior to enrolling in some of the institutions offering these courses:

– First Aid


– Anatomy & Physiology

– Medical terminologies

Some of the other things that you need when enrolling into the institutions include a high school diploma or a GED certificate. To become a fully-fledged CNA you will need to go through a certificate program between 6 and 12 weeks. The program can be in form of on-the-Job training where the institution takes up an individual and trains them about everything they are required to know about being a certified nursing assistant. The individual, when ready, can take the CNA test and if they pass the facility will employ them to continue working. These chances are however slim and most people are forced to go the way of enrolling in an institution offering the course.


The program can be completed within a short period of time depending on the time available and the class schedules. Some of the things that are taught before an individual qualifies to sit for the CNA examination include the basic nursing skills and techniques, nutritional topics, infection, control and anatomy and physiology. As part of the program, the students are required to take part in clinical activities where they get ample experience in the job.

The certification of certified nursing assistants varies with location as different states and nations have their own regulations that control the process. However, most if not all of the certification programs offer an exam which is then used to gauge who will be certified and who will not.

Beyond what is learnt in class, there are other qualities that are essential when someone is aiming to become a certified nursing assistant.

Compassion – CNAs mostly handle people who have no ability to take care of themselves such as the elderly and the disabled. This requires a great deal of empathy and compassion towards the patients.

Observational – Certified nursing assistants are considered as the primary care givers and this means that they have to pay attention to the smallest of details so as to inform their supervisors of any noticeable changes.

Patience – Being a CNA is no doubt a tough job for people without the necessary amount of patience especially when dealing with depressed patients. This is because some of the responsibilities include assisting the patients go through their daily activities and without patience, veering off the set goals is an easy thing.

CNA Places To Work

Though there many places where certified nursing assistants can work, the basic functions remain the same; taking care of patients on a personal level. The roles and responsibilities tend to change with the working location since the patients are not the same and all have different needs. Basically CNAs provide healthcare assistance to patients in a wide range of places such as hospitals, nursing homes, private homes and centers for the elderly among others as long as they have patients who require services that are more personal than what Registered Nurses offer.

Extended Care

Most of the certified nursing assistants have jobs in facilities that provide extended care such as residences for the senior citizens and nursing homes. The work of the CNAs in such a facility involves assisting the elderly or the disabled go manage their daily activities. These needs and activities include things such as feeding the patients who have a difficulty feeding themselves, bathing the patients, dressing them and leading the group in low impact workouts or engaging them in games or talks to keep their minds busy. The assistants are also tasked with monitoring the health of the patients and looking out for signs of mental or physical deterioration. The CNAs spend most of their time with these patients and thus develop a personal relationship that allows them to provide physical and most importantly emotional support.


Hospitals are the other places where certified nursing assistants work. The only difference with the extended care is that in hospitals, the patients are more varied such that there are both male and female and all ages including children. Similarly, the roles of the CNAs in hospitals revolve around personal healthcare and helping the patients go through a day. The assistants working in hospitals are required to have more knowledge on basic medical procedures such as dressing injured patients who have been in an accident or from surgery. They are required to keep records or vital signs following a predetermined schedule. They can also administer medication while closely monitoring for infection complications or warning signs.

Home Care

There is an option that provides CNAs with an alternative to working in a quieter environment as opposed to the high-volume care facilities and hospitals. Home care is the option and it involves the CNA working in a private home. The job simply involves the nursing assistant visiting an elderly client or an individual who is disabled and cannot handle their basic needs and activities. The visits are arranged and some of the responsibilities include basic hygiene, dressing, exercises, verification of that the patients are following the medication prescription among others. All the visits play a major role in assisting the patients maintain higher levels of independence and in gaining better quality of life. The visits also allow patients to stay in their home if that is their wish.

There are other health facilities where certified nursing assistants can work in provided there is a need for professional individuals trained in handling patients on a more personal level.

Hourly Pay for CNA

In most cases; certified nursing assistants earn their income on an hourly basis as opposed to the annual salary. This simply means the income of the CNA depends highly on the amount of hours they spend working and will fluctuate in that respect. A CNA can therefore work fulltime or push for a constant 60 hours in a week.

There are major factors that are behind the influence of the amount of money the assistant earns in an hour. One of these factors is location. Different locations will carry different wages. For instance, the leafy suburbs of any city will attract great wages for the home care nursing assistants as opposed to areas with individuals earning an average income. Another factor is the amount of responsibilities that the nursing assistant has. This is why CNAs in nursing homes and other assisted living homes will generally earn less than those working in high-volume hospitals. Hospitals are full of patients and the CNAs are always busy handling different patients and thus they get a higher pay.

In Conclusion

Certified Nursing Assistants are not just assistants, they are personal health care givers who develop a personal relationship with the patients so as to provide better care and enable them meet their needs in a daily basis. The job is demanding but also rewarding for the compassionate. It is a gateway to higher ranks in the medical world and provides a satisfying feeling for those who have a desire to assist people. The income highly depends on the responsibilities, the place of work and on the location of the facility. The information above has answered the question- what is a CNA?’