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The Unseen Importance of Nursing Assistants

Nursing Assistants

Nursing assistants make all the difference when it comes to receiving good medical care. However, their roles often go unappreciated by patients and even the medical community. They are looked down on because their roles require less education and training than other medical care providers.

What these people don't realize is the difference their roles make to a nurse when a hospital is short-handed or to a patient who needs help getting to the bathroom.

In this article, we explain the importance of certified nursing assistants (CNA). We also discuss their daily responsibilities. Continue reading to find out how nursing assistants are vital to your medical care experience.

What Are Nursing Assistants?

Nursing assistants also referred to as nurses' aides are hired to support the nursing staff. They help perform a lot of the tasks that might otherwise fall to the nursing staff, thereby lightening their load of responsibilities. Nursing assistants are often found in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and even private homes.

How to Become a Nursing Assistant?

In order to become a nursing assistant, a person needs to undergo the proper training. Training requirements vary by state. In most states, a college degree is not required, though a high school diploma or GED is.

Education

Additionally, most states require completion of a nursing assistant program, which lasts an average of four to 12 weeks. After completing this program, it may also be necessary to become certified or licensed via a state-issued exam. To find out each state's specific requirements, check with the state health department.

Part of the reason these nursing aide students are underappreciated is that they don't undergo the same strenuous coursework as nurses or doctors. However, they are educated and trained to provide the best medical care. Without the education needed to fill these roles, these roles would not be filled and the medical community would suffer.

Salary

Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is the best way to start a career in the medical field. However, being that it's an entry-level position, it's common to receive an entry-level salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a CNA is $35,580 or $17.23 per hour.

However, this career offers a positive outlook for the future. It has a projected growth rate of 19 percent, which is much higher than the average of four percent across all fields. This growth rate could also mean more opportunities to negotiate higher salaries for hardworking nursing assistants.

Career Progression

Nursing assistants often find their roles fulfilling and choose to stay with them for several years. However, they do have the option to gradually progress in their medical career. Many CNAs pursue careers as licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, or other healthcare-related careers.

What Do Nursing Assistants Do?

Part of what makes nursing assistants' jobs undervalued is the lack of knowledge about what is required of these roles. Even if people understand that they assist nurses, they don't know what that looks like, which is a shame because they do so much.

The role of a nursing assistant is broad, but their general responsibilities include taking care of patient's needs, providing medical care, and caring for the medical facility.

Take Care of Patient Needs

Taking care of the needs of their patients is one of the top priorities of nursing assistants. They answer in-room call buttons to check on patient requests. These requests are varied and depend on the individual and their medical condition, but the CNA does what they can to help.

For example, nursing assistants help patients with daily activities such as getting up to use the restroom or going for a walk. They have the training to do so carefully and not cause harm. In private homes, they might serve meals or help the patient eat.

Additionally, keeping patients and patient rooms clean are duties that fall to nursing assistants. This ranges from changing bandages (under the supervision of an RN) to changing bedpans. Maintaining sanitary conditions is an essential part of promoting good health and healing.

Take Care of the Facility

Nursing assistants do more than just care for patients, they also care for the facility they work at. CNAs will make sure the nurse their working with (or the nursing staff in general) has everything they need to provide the best medical care possible. This means restocking supplies and making sure equipment stays clean and ready for use.

Provide Medical Care

While nursing assistants care for their patients and the facility they work in, they also are skilled at providing medical care. Since they don't have the same training as a registered nurse, they are limited in the care they can provide. However, there are several tasks they can perform, which help ensure the well-being of their patients.

Examples of the medical care provided by nursing assistants include checking patient vitals, administering medications, and collecting lab specimens. They report unusual findings to the nurse and record information in the medical record.

Be Grateful for Nursing Assistants

Providing good medical care as a nursing assistant takes a lot of training and education. It's something these individuals take seriously and their roles deserve respect.

Nursing assistants work hard to ensure the health and well-being of their patients. They make sure their nurses and patients have whatever they need to be successful, even when their jobs are underappreciated. The next time you work with a nursing assistant, be sure to say thank you for all they do.

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