There’s nothing routine about the everyday duties of a certified nursing assistant (CNA), despite a checklist of expected responsibilities learned during training. The variety of duties in this growing occupation depends on regulations from state-to-state, and from facility-to-facility. But whether the job is at a busy hospital in New York, or a slow-paced hospice in Oregon, a CNA should always be prepared to fulfill a high standard of care, as an important member of a patient’s medical team.
A CNA, above all, will use empathy and sincere interest to ensure that patients are comfortable while receiving care. Additionally, from the moment a CNA starts a shift, observational skills and attention to details will occupy the workday. And though being proactive with supervisory registered nurses and physicians is essential to the job, a certified nursing assistant will be entrusted to work solo, taking care of patient needs in a timely manner.
In a typical day – if such a day exists – CNAs will likely perform the following:
–Checking vital signs. This crucial duty includes taking and recording a patient’s temperature; taking and recording blood pressure and pulse; and in some cases, recording height and weight might be required daily.
–Observing input and output of bodily functions. Recording a patient’s intake of water, then tracking urine and feces output can be critical to a person’s medical state. In addition, watching for any output of sputum, emesis and blood might mean the difference in prolonging or decreasing the patient’s stay in a facility.
–Working with patients to regain range of motion. Even simple exercises are important to someone forced to be bedridden for any amount of time.
–Relaying changes in patient conditions. Unusual behavior, different eating or drinking patterns and anything that seems out-of-the-norm should be checked and reported to supervisors.
–Assisting and coordinating daily activities. Basic hygiene – such as walking to the toilet or even using a bedpan — is impossible for some patients, so the CNA will handle these essential activities to keep patients clean and safe. Oral and nail care might be necessary, as well. Feeding and keeping people hydrated is another role the nursing assistant fills. Repositioning patients in bed by turning them correctly is crucial to preventing sores and infections, another CNA duty.
–Using technical devices and equipment to perform diagnostic tests. Though most medical analyses will be supervised, CNAs often conduct and record a variety of procedures as part of the medical team. Catheter care is a typical chore, while charting amounts of fluids.
–Performing light cleaning, especially around the bed area where sheets and blankets are often soiled from sweat or bodily fluids.
–Helping patients move. Getting in and out of bed or wheelchairs, and transporting patients from an area or department is a typical job.
Get Your CNA!
Find CNA schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.