The CNA In Today’s Nursing Field
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) fill an important role in today’s healthcare industry, providing the most direct and daily care many patients will receive. Depending on the employer, the CNA may also be known as home health aides, personal caregivers, nurse aids, patient care technicians, or other titles, but the basic job description is the same. They are employed almost everywhere inpatient healthcare is provided, including hospitals, long-term care facilities (nursing homes), assisted living facilities, and in the patient’s home, either as self-employed in-home care workers or as employees of an agency that provides such services. Job Description Working under the supervision of a nurse, CNAs take care of the most basic daily needs of a patient. Because the CNA has the most daily contact with the patient, she plays in important role in keeping the supervising nurse apprised of a patient’s condition. The CNA is sometimes the first to see conditions that may indicate changes in the patient’s health status.
The primary duties of the CNA usually include but are not limited to the following: •Bathing the patient regularly •Changing patients’ linens •Feeding patients •Dressing and undressing patients •Assisting with the patient’s hygiene, such as brushing teeth, shaving, and grooming •Assisting with the patient’s toileting, including changing bedpans and urinals, and inserting or changing catheters •Turning immobilized patients •Helping with basic exercises •Monitoring the safety conditions and cleanliness of the patient’s room, and cleaning or organizing as necessary. •Keeping accurate and appropriate records As you can see from this short list, the CNA plays a vital role in today’s healthcare system. They do not perform medical procedures, but are indispensable parts of the healthcare team caring for a patient. CNA Training A 6 to 12 week training course is required in order to become certified; these courses are usually available at local colleges and at some medical facilities. Because CNAs do not perform medical procedures, their training is necessarily less medically intensive than that of RNs or LPNs.
However, some medical training is required—it is a medical career, after all. CNA training includes courses in anatomy, physiology, safety (including handling infectious biowaste), nutrition, and basic techniques for taking vital signs. Other topics covered will vary from program to program and may include such topics as age-specific needs of patients, communication skills, first aid (especially CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver). A good CNA program will also include lots of hands-on experience as classroom instruction is no substitute for the real-life situations CNAs face daily on the job. Training for LPNs and RNs, by contrast, is medically intensive because these nurses perform medical procedures. Nursing programs can run from two-year programs for an Associates of Science degree in Nursing to six years or more for a Master’s or Doctor’s degree in Nursing. After completing a nursing program, candidates must then pass the NCLEX-PN licensing examination in order to be employed. CNAs are eligible for employment upon completion of their training program and passing the certification exam. CNA work is not easy work; in fact, it is physically and emotionally demanding. But CNAs who love their jobs recognize intangible benefits in the form of personal relationships and the satisfaction that comes in caring for other human beings.