A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional who assists patients with various healthcare needs, under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.
As a CNA, you can work in many different places: hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, personal residences and assisting living facilities. In all of these workplaces, you will generally have similar responsibilities. The seven most common are:
#1 Help Patients With Their Basic Living Activities
The most critical care that CNAs provide is to help patients with basic living activities that they cannot currently do for themselves without assistance. Some of the things that you will help with include:
- Cleaning and bathing your patients. Many patients have a great deal of difficulty keeping themselves clean when they are in the hospital or nursing home. It is of great importance for you to help to keep them as clean as possible, and you will spend much of your time doing this.
- Take care of combing hair, shaving caring for nails and brushing teeth.
- Help your patient use the toilet and to get dressed.
- Turn, transfer and reposition your patients between the wheelchair and bed.
- Help to take patients to eat and to participate in various activities.
- Serve the patients meals and in some cases, to help them eat if they cannot do it for themselves.
#2 Listen to the Health Concerns Of Patients
One of your key roles is to assist your RN supervisor in doing his or her job. One of the ways that you do this is to talk to the patient while you are doing your work. You will need to listen to their health concerns and record them in notes, either on paper or in an electronic system. After that, you will need to report this new health information to nurses in an accurate fashion.
#3 Measure Vital Signs
When you are going about your tasks of feeding your patients, bathing them and helping them use the toilet, you will need to be taking their vital signs, as well. Taking vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure every day is a very important way for you to help your RN supervisor keep tabs on the health of the patient. Also, you will need to take their pulse, weight, and pain level every day. You always need to be sure to take vital signs on time according to the schedule and to report them accurately.
This is one of the jobs that many CNAs do not think about, but it definitely is important. The person that you are caring for does not have the ability to take care of him or herself, so they will not be able to take care of their immediate environment either. You will need to clean the room in which the person is staying every few days. If you are doing home care, you will need to keep the kitchen, bathroom and living areas clean. Also, you will need to move the patient out of the bed every few days to change the linens.
#5 Tending to Patient Issues and Problems
You will be dealing with a person with a number of health problems, which will vary depending upon the patient. You are going to need to speed much of your time as a CNA working to manage those problems. For example, you will in some cases need to tend to patient wounds. You will need to clean them, dress them, and ensure that they are healing properly. Also, you will need to work to prevent bed sores in your patients. You will need to reposition your patient often and turn them regularly.
By focusing your efforts as a CNA on these essential tasks, you can really make a strong difference in the lives of your patients.