What is a Certified Nursing Asistant (CNA)?

A certified nursing assistant or CNA helps patients with activities of daily living and other healthcare needs under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). CNA’s are also commonly referred to as a Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Assistant (PCA), or a Nurse’s Aid. They provide personal care to patients in a variety of settings. CNAs can be employed in nursing homes, hospitals, hospice centers, private homes, and more.

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Typical CNA Duties

CNA Job Outlook

CNAs can help a unit run smoothly. Below are the responsibilities of a CNA, but are not limited to:

  • Prepare rooms for admissions
  • Gathering supplies for the RN or MD
  • Obtaining vital signs per protocol
  • Documentation of information obtained
  • Communicating with other team members about patients
  • Helping with medical procedures
  • Answering call lights and helping with requests
  • Feeding patients, measuring and recording their food and liquid intake
  • Helping patients with personal hygiene
  • Turning, repositioning, and ambulating patients
  • Keeping patient rooms and belongings clean

Employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of orderlies is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster as the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages, nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed to help care for an increasing number of older patients in nursing and residential care facilities. Older people are more likely than younger people to have disorders such as dementia, or to live with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. More nursing assistants will be needed to care for patients with these conditions.

Demand for nursing assistants may be constrained by the fact that many nursing homes rely on government funding. Cuts to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid may affect patients’ ability to pay for nursing home care. In addition, patient preferences and shifts in federal and state funding are increasing the demand for home and community-based long-term care, which should lead to increased opportunities for nursing assistants working in home health and community rehabilitation services.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nursing Assistants and Orderlies,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm (visited June 7, 2021)