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Nursing Assistant


How to Become a Nursing Assistant
Nursing Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Nursing Assistants
Nursing Assistant Salary
Influential Professionals in the Nursing Assistant Field
Leading Nursing Assistant Organizations
Top Cities for Nursing Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Nursing Assistant

The process of becoming a nursing assistant in the United States will vary greatly, depending on where you live and where you choose to work. To become a nursing assistant, you must at least have a high school diploma or GED, and complete an approved certified nursing assistant program. You must be in good health, have good interpersonal skills, and be able to work as part of a team.

The first step to becoming a nursing assistant is to find the best program that suits you and matches your career goals. You can obtain nursing assistant training at high schools, nursing care facilities, vocational/technical schools, community colleges, and the American Red Cross. Also, health care facilities in your local area sometimes advertise in newspapers, offering free or pay-while-you-learn certified nursing assistant classes. These classes are available to those who are interested, and who have no prior medical experience.

Prospective nursing assistants can also receive classroom training through their employers. Other candidates receive on-the-job training through experienced nurses. This kind of training could last from a few days to several months. You may also obtain training by attending lectures, trainings, and workshops in the nursing assistant field.

Regardless of the route you take to become a nursing assistant, you will be required to take courses in anatomy, physiology, personal care skills, body mechanics, infection control, nutrition, communication skills, and resident rights to name few. The average nursing assistant training program normally takes from 2 to 5 weeks to complete.

Once you complete nursing assistant training, you will be required to take a State administered test to become certified. A physical examination and criminal background are normally required for employment.

What does a Nursing Assistant do?

Nursing assistants are mainly responsible for providing medical support to doctors and nurse in hospitals and other health care facilities. They provide hands-on personal care to patients, and perform repetitive, routine tasks under the supervision of nurses and doctors. They assist patients with eating, dressing, bathing, getting in and out of bed, walking, and skin care. Nursing assistants also escort patients to and from operating rooms and examining rooms.

Many routine, repetitive tasks performed by nursing assistants include helping patients, taking messages and delivering them to patients and staff, serving patients their meals, making patients' beds, emptying bedpans, cleaning rooms, and much more. Depending on their workplace, nursing assistants are sometimes required to record vital signs, i.e. taking patients' temperatures, monitoring and recording their pulse rates and respiration rates, taking blood pressure, collecting small samples of body fluids, and sterilizing equipment and supplies.

Some nursing assistants serve as backup to other medical staff by setting up and monitoring equipment, moving and storing supplies, and assisting with some medical procedures. They prepare and stock dressings, treatment trays and other medical equipment. Nursing assistants can also be assigned to observe and monitor a patient's physical, mental, and emotional state, and report any changes to nursing or medical.

Work as a nursing assistant can be physically demanding. Many nursing assistants spend hours walking, standing, bending and lifting. They have heavy workloads, and perform tasks that most people may consider unpleasant, such as emptying bedpans and changing soiled bed linens.

To have a successful career in the nursing assistant field, you must be in good physical condition, and have the ability to follow proper established and procedures for lifting and moving patients. You must be conscientious in regards to monitoring patients, and inform doctors, nurses and other pertinent staff of any significant changes in a patient's physical, mental, and emotional state. When leaving work, nursing assistants must be diligent in passing on any up-dated patient information to the supervisor or nursing assistant who is coming on duty.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Nursing Assistant?

If you are thinking about becoming a nursing assistant, you must be a caring and compassionate person, who desires to help people. This is important because when things become challenging, the nursing assistants who remain in the field, do so because they have a deep sense of compassion for the people they care for.

Employers will expect you to be a person who exhibits patience and a high level of maturity. This is an absolute necessity. As a nursing assistant, you will be faced with challenging situations on a daily basis that can test your patience, endurance, and coping ability. Working with verbally and/or physically abusive patients is an almost daily occurrence, especially in most nursing homes. Facing many hazards in the workplace, nursing assistants must guard against extreme physical strain and back injury when lifting and moving patients.

When working in a hospital or any medical or nursing facility, repeated exposure to minor infections and major diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and other contagious and airborne infections and diseases can be detrimental to your health. This can protect you from exposure by following the proper established policies and procedures in our work environment.

A nursing assistant must have good communication and interpersonal skills. You must possess the ability to work well with others, and be willing to perform repetitive, routine tasks. Teamwork is an absolute necessity, so if you prefer to work alone, being a nursing assistant is not the career for you.

How much does a Nursing Assistant make?

Like any other profession, your salary as a nursing assistant salary can vary according to your place of employment, your level of experience, and geographical location. On average, a nursing assistant's salary in the United States as of May 2007 was $23,920. Fifty to ninety percent of all nursing assistants made between $23,160 and $32,270 during the same year. Nursing assistants who work in hospitals usually make more money than those working in nursing care facilities. Nursing assistants who are employed by the U.S. government make significantly more than all other nursing assistants in the health care industry.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

William Painter is the President of the National Network of Career nursing assistants, an organization that promotes the professional growth, career development, and recognition of certified nursing assistants. In 2004, nursing assistant, Beverly Christman of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and certified nursing assistant, Gayle Werre of Minot, North Dakota was awarded the Caring & Competent Caregiver Award by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the Rosalynn Carter Institute. Pat Highsmith, a nursing assistant, fought for the rights of three million industrial union workers in the State of Connecticut during the 2004 presidential election. She was one of three million union workers who lost their jobs in a four-year period.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Network of Career Nursing Assistants is an organization that highlights the nursing assistant field, and protects the rights of direct care workers, specifically certified nursing assistants. 4CNA, an online magazine for certified nursing assistants, was created to provide up-to-date and reliable information for certified nursing assistants and for those who are interested in a career as a certified nursing assistant. Martha and Mary, founded in 1891, and one of the oldest nursing home care facilities in the United States, provides individuals who are interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant with some of the best free clinical (hands-on) training in the nursing assistant profession.

What are the top cities for Nursing Assistant jobs?

Job prospects for people who are interested in the nursing assistant profession are excellent. Numerous job opportunities are expected, and many job openings will be available. There is a great demand for nursing assistants, especially in nursing and residential care facilities, hospitals, and home health care services. Jobs are projected to grow 28 percent between 2006 and 2016, growing at a faster average rate than all other occupations.

Nassau and Suffolk, New York are the top cities in the United States for nursing assistants, followed second by San Francisco, San Mateo, and Redwood City, California. San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, California come in third place, while Salinas, California comes in at a distant fourth. Fairbanks, Alaska comes in fifth place for top cities as far as nursing assistant jobs are concerned.

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