A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is an integral part of the patient care team at many health care facilities, including nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and hospitals. They may also provide in-home care to patients as part of home health or hospice care.
CNAs report to registered nurses or licensed practical nurses but are expected to be self-motivated in providing quality care to patients. The average CNA salary is more than $30,000 annually, and the need for CNAs in the country is growing.
Here’s what you should know about this demanding but rewarding health care job.
CNA Job Description
A CNA provides direct care to patients as directed by the nurse in charge. The sort of responsibilities a CNA typically does are duties related to activities of daily living, like transporting, cleaning, dressing, assisting, and grooming patients.
CNAs provide assistance to the rest of the medical staff and communicate any concerns about a patient’s condition to them. They’re responsible for helping patients to feel comfortable and safe and respond to their needs.
Although exact responsibilities will vary based on the facility and the patients they work with, the most common CNA duties include the following:
- Take vitals: Take patient vitals (blood pressure, pulse, respiration, etc.) as needed, chart results, and communicate with the rest of the care team if there are any concerns.
- Assess patients: Check patients for bruises, bedsores, and wounds. Let the rest of the care team know if they find anything unusual. Assist with applying and changing non-sterile wound dressings and give patients ice packs or heat therapy. Monitor and chart patients’ attitudes and reactions.
- Communicate: Respond to patient calls and relay important information, questions, and concerns to the rest of the patient care team. Chart details about services provided via electronic or handwritten charting systems.
- Attend to patient hygiene: Assist patients to maintain their hygiene through helping them with bathing, dental care, and grooming. Give bed-bound patients bed baths. Dress patients and help them change clothes.
- Help them move around: Help patients get in and out of bed, walk, and help people with wheelchairs. Lift patients onto exam tables and rotate bed-bound patients to prevent bedsores from forming.
- Provide assistance with toileting: CNAs often check and change catheter bags, help patients use the toilet, and provide and clean bedpans. Other duties also include caring for incontinent patients by changing their diapers or pads and cleaning the patient.
- Clean patient rooms: Clean and sanitize patient rooms and restock room supplies. They also regularly change bed linens, sometimes do the laundry, and help to tidy patient rooms.
- Assist patients with eating: Assist patients with eating and drinking as needed. CNAs also help in tracking how much food and water patients take if necessary.
- Prevent infection spread: Use standard precautions and safety devices to help prevent the spread of infection and disease. Know how to use personal protective equipment appropriately, like gloves, masks, etc.
- Additional responsibilities: CNAs may help with additional responsibilities at the request of their supervisor, such as admitting and discharging patients, assisting with patient transfers, and helping with initial post-mortem care. Depending on state regulations and facility rules, a CNA may also get extra certification to be able to administer medications to patients.
CNA Educational Requirements & Essential Skills
For CNAs to work effectively and safely in providing care to patients, they need the following skills:
- Understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology
- Knowledge of basic nursing skills such as taking and recording vital signs
- Current CPR certification
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Great observational skills
- Friendly and compassionate bedside manner
- Ability to effectively handle graphic medical situations
- Basic computer skills.
In order to become a CNA, people can enroll in programs at community colleges, healthcare employment agencies, and vocational schools to learn the skills required to pass state certification exams and skill assessments.
CNA programs cover how to handle all of the common duties found in a CNA’s job description, as listed above. Training takes about two to 12 weeks in total and ends with the goal of you passing your state’s certification exam. Most CNA training programs will include test preparation for the certification exam built into the lesson plan.
CNA Salary and Job Outlook
The average annual salary for CNAs in the United States is $30,720, with an average hourly rate of $14.77, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Although that’s the average, rates will vary widely depending on the state. Alaskan CNAs make the most nationwide, with an average hourly wage of $19.38. The next high-paying states for CNAs are New York ($18.66 per hour on average), Hawaii ($18.13 per hour on average), and California ($17.61 per hour on average).
The job outlook for CNAs is excellent. Since many CNAs work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, there will be a growing need for them as baby boomers enter their senior years and the proportion of older adults in the population grows.
Nursing assistant and orderly positions are growing, and it’s expected that they’ll only keep growing in demand. The need for CNAs is expected to increase by 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Overall, being a CNA is an exciting job in the medical field where you can help patients one-on-one and enjoy the job security of a field growing in demand.
For excellent job flexibility and the opportunity to determine your own work and life balance, qualified CNAs can apply at Clipboard Health today, and start working per-diem shifts at nearby facilities tomorrow.
The Clipboard Health app gives CNAs the ability to view open shifts in their area, choose shifts that work with their preferences and schedules, and get paid ASAP for their shift with our partner DailyPay.