Nursing Assistant

Nursing Assistant

What is a Nursing Assistant? 

A Nursing Assistant is a person who provides basic care to patients in a variety of healthcare settings. They work under the supervision of Licensed Practical Nurses and/or Registered Nurses. These healthcare workers are also commonly referred to as Nursing Aides or Nurses’ Aides in the workplace.

Nursing Assistants: Job Responsibilities 

The job responsibilities of nursing assistants vary widely from one employment situation to another. They also differ from state to state, according to the regulations governing the scope of their duties set forth by each state’s Board of Nursing. Despite these differences, there are some general duties that Nursing Assistants are responsible for in most states and employment settings, such as: 

  • Helping patients with personal care tasks, like bathing, dressing, skin care and oral care 
  • Assisting patients with grooming tasks, such as hair care or shaving, for instance 
  • Serving meals and helping patients eat when necessary 
  • Providing toileting assistance 
  • Catheter care 
  • Turning and repositioning patients in bed 
  • Transferring patients, such as between beds and wheelchairs 
  • Measuring, recording and reporting vital signs 
  • Listen to, observe, record and report patients’ general condition, health issues and other concerns 
  • Assisting patients with walking, using gait belts, walkers, canes and other necessary devices 
  • Helping patients with range of motion exercises 
  • Making beds 
  • Post-mortem care 

In many healthcare settings, especially residential care facilities, nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities, Nursing Assistants are the primary hand-on caregivers of patients.

Employment Settings for Nursing Assistants 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest employers of nursing assistants are as follows: nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities), hospitals; state, local, and private, continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly, home healthcare services, and government.  

The work of nursing assistants and orderlies may be strenuous. They spend much of their time on their feet as they care for patients. These workers frequently move patients and have other physically demanding tasks. They typically get training in how to properly lift people, which can reduce the risk of injuries.  

Although most nursing assistants and orderlies work full time, some work part time. Because nursing and residential care facilities and hospitals provide care at all hours, nursing assistants and orderlies may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays. 

Nursing Assistants: Career Outlook 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that overall employment of nursing assistants and orderlies is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  

About 209,400 openings for nursing assistants and orderlies are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.  

As the baby-boom population ages, nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed to help care for an increasing number of older people who have chronic or progressive diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.  

Demand for nursing assistants may be constrained by financial pressures on nursing homes, which might lead some facilities to close or reduce staff. However, increased opportunities are expected in home- and community-based settings as patient preferences and shifts in federal and state funding generate demand for care in these settings. 

Becoming a Nursing Assistant: Educational Requirements 

To become a Nursing Assistant, individuals must complete a state-approved education program, which includes a requirement for supervised clinical work.  These courses may be offered by high schools, community colleges, vocational schools and technical schools, among other educational settings. Some hospitals, nursing homes and home healthcare agencies also offer Nursing Assistant training courses. 

After completing their education, aspiring Nursing assistants must pass a state-approved competency test to become certified for employment in the field. Generally, Nursing Assistants must also successfully complete a period of on-the-job training to qualify for continued employment. 

Additional Training/Requirements 

Nursing Assistants, in most states, must pass criminal background checks to qualify to work in virtually all healthcare settings. Many states and/or employers also require drug testing. Some states require that Nursing Assistants comply with continuing education guidelines to maintain their status as a certified or state-approved Nursing assistant. Many states offer additional credentials for Nursing Assistants who choose to pursue them. Among the most common are certifications that qualify them to give medications. 

For more information on a career in the nursing field, please visit the healthcare degree section on the Bryant & Stratton College blog. Exploring our website can also offer further insight on careers in the nursing field and many other areas of the healthcare industry.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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