A nursing assistant career is an excellent option for those who want to make a difference in people’s lives, work in the health-care industry, and have the assurance that they possess a valuable medical job skill that is always in demand. Nursing assistants are also called nurse’s aides; most of the time, the worker is referred to as a CNA, which stands for Certified Nursing Assistant, but all these terms mean the same thing. In some places, other terms will be used, such as hospital attendant. While the wages that CNAs receive tend to be below average, especially for entry-level positions, employment offers are usually abundant. It’s the rare CNA who wants a job but can’t find one.
Most people who work in a nursing assistant career are women, but there are a substantial number of male CNAs. Most CNAs work in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, and mental-health facilities. They are direct-care workers, which means that much of their work involves direct, hands-on interaction with their patients, which is not usually the case with doctors and nurses. A nursing assistant career will involve a lot of hard work and is one of the most physically demanding jobs in the entire health-care industry. Good shoes are a must, as most CNAs will spend the vast majority of their work shift on their feet. Back injuries are a risk, as much of the work involves lifting patients out of bed, helping them walk from one place to another, and various other quite strenuous tasks.
CNAs perform a wide variety of tasks in their care of patients. They may take vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, and temperature. They will help patients bathe, eat, and dress when necessary, and they are often the first responder to a call for help from a patient. Some tasks can be unpleasant, such as changing bedpans and soiled sheets, and a CNA must have a strong sense of empathy to deal with these tasks. In addition, many patients are mentally impaired by various conditions, and some are just very unpleasant people to deal with, so the CNA must also be very patient and long suffering. Short fuses and brusque personalities are a poor fit for a nursing assistant career. Other tasks will involve helping nurses and other members of the staff to set up equipment, etc. Each day is different, but also routine in many ways. Many CNAs develop close bonds with the patients they serve, and they find this to be one of the most fulfilling aspects of the job.
Becoming a nursing assistant doesn’t require a college degree, but there is some training involved. Vocational schools, trade schools, community colleges, and some high schools offer nursing assistant training. In most cases the training lasts just a few weeks, and the candidate is ready to enter the job market. Before doing so, it will be necessary to get certified. This is done by taking and passing the Certified Nurse Assistant exam as certification is a requirement. Wages for CNAs are on the low end of jobs in the health- care industry, but are higher than many other entry-level jobs for high school graduates. Most CNAs earn between $10 and $14 an hour; some earn less, while some earn more. In most cases, it pays to stay with one employer, as pay is often based on seniority. Also, it should be kept in mind that a nursing assistant career offers many opportunities for overtime, which can substantially increase one’s earnings.