CNA Job Description: Are You Qualified?

CNA Job Description: Are You Qualified?

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The need to provide proper medical care, especially among the elderly, has become a real issue for both the government and society as a whole. In the U.S., life expectancy has improved significantly due to advancements in medical science.  Quickly rising from 47 years in the early 1900’s to 75 by the 1990’s, health experts and practitioners predict one’s longevity will reach 80 or more in the coming years. Not to mention the 76 million baby boomers that are entering the age of retirement as we speak. They too will have a great need for reliable medical insurance and basic health care as the millennium continues to unfold.

Qualities of a Good CNATherefore, due to such societal changes, the need for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) has continued to grow at an exponential rate.The growing numbers of the greying population and persons with disabilities has quickly made the profession of CNA a popular and promising long-term career with great benefits and serious job security.  The increasing public demand due to the shortage of trained and experienced nursing professionals paved the way for the advent of nursing assistants in the medical and health industry as injuries, disability and the elderly is fast becoming a commonplace.Due to the high demand and low supply, its no wonder that this field is growing by the day.

So, what then is a certified nursing assistant? What are his or her necessary qualifications and area of responsibilities?  To help answer such questions, we will give you a typical CNA job description by providing information about the requirements to become a CNA, characteristics of highly effective CNAs, their responsibilities, daily routine, and duties.  Hopefully, after you have finished reading our job description, you will have the necessary tools to make the right choice about starting a career in this wonderful and fulfilling field.

CNA Requirements

To become a CNA you must have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent GED. In most states, they require you to be at least 18, however, this isn’t always the case.

If you meet the above requirements, then you need to enroll in an accredited CNA training course provided at certain institutions like community colleges, medical institutions, the Red Cross and other online schools.  Unlike most medical professions, a CNA’s course curriculum does not require years of medical training and exposure or even a bachelor’s degree. In some states, student candidates are required to only complete about 50 to 70 credit hours of training before they are allowed to take the certification exams.

Once you have completed an accredited CNA program, you will then be required to take the official CNA exam.  There is no universal standard for the CNA exam like there is an SAT or GED, however, most states use the NNAAP CNA exam standard.  To help you understand what this test is like, we have a CNA Practice Test that can give you a quick look at what kind of information you will need to prepare for in the coming days. After passing the CNA exam, you can then register with that respective state and start your career as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Required Qualities and Characteristics

The job of a CNA can be very demanding due to the nature of their profession.Dealing with debilitated residents or patients in need, a CNA must utilize multiple skills at once.  They must be a medical professional that assists their respective team in the overall care of a patient. They must know and understand medical terminology and be able to adapt to the ever-changing situation inside of a hospital.  They must be able to complete their assignments while staying focused despite constant interruptions.  They must be able to carry out oral and written instructions given by their immediate superiors.

An effective CNA must possess a compassionate heart in caring and connect with the needy, the weak and the suffering. The role of a CNA is not just medical care, but to provide an adequate environment and supply the basic needs of a patient. These needs can be in the form of compassion, entertainment, and overall respect.  They should havegood listening skills and be able to speak with clarity to patients and at all times conduct themselves in a calm manner.  But their communications doesn’t just stop at the patient.  They are a vital connection between the registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and the patients concerned, constantly giving health updates and vital life saving information.

A certified nursing assistant must also be physically strong and mentally fit due to the nature of his or her work schedule.  The average day of a CNA demands a fast-paced, decisive, intense preparation and outlook on the patient’s condition as real-time situations arise. There are times that a CNA needs to move or lift patients from their bed to a wheelchair or simply accompany them to therapy sessions around the medical facility. He or she must have fine motor skills and a durable physique.

In essence, they must be capable of performing their job with or without reasonable accommodations and with exceptional distinction.  For it is these basic tenants that truly make a good CNA great.

Basic Job Details and Salary

A certified nursing assistant usually works an 8-hour shift with a one hour break. They normally divide this short respite by taking two quick fifteen-minute breaks and a thirty-minute lunch. ln terms of salary and compensation the earning power of a certified nursing assistant depends on a number of factors like demographics, economics, experience, and education. For example, a new CNA entry level minimum wage could start at $12per hour as compared to someone who has worked for five years or more who can demand up to $25 an hour.

The degree of their exposure and qualifications limits a CNA’s earning capacity but this should not stop them from aspiring for a higher pay grade or moving higher to advance their studies in the nursing profession.   CNAs with MACE certification or CNAs with other skills like IT and marketing, can also increase their overall salary and cause a higher demand for their services.  Also, when choosing which state to register in, take consideration of that state’s average salary since pay varies from place to place.  These types of changes can easily double your overall pay without increasing your workload.
The key to a CNA’s salary is that it will only go up over time.  Because of the overall demand and low supply, hospitals will need more and more CNA.  The CNA job description is straightforward, however, with the growing needs of the hospital, they are being asked to perform even more high-level duties and are becoming a more valuable member of the team.

Therefore, the key to success is improving over time and be ready for those high-level demands.  Your success and overall pay will only increase with time.

Before we go any further, let’s discuss, define and study a certified nursing assistant’s responsibilities, duties and job description for you to understand the scope of its nature and requirements you should understand its demands and requirements.

The Responsibilities and Job Description of a CNA

The overall responsibility of a CNA is to help their residents and patients to perform their required everyday activity, assisting in their personal care, providing medical attention and creating opportunities for social interaction among themselves or with other people.

To help you understand these types of responsibilities in more detail, we have broken them into three categories: The patient’s everyday life assistance, the patient’s medical needs, and the patient’s holistic well being.

1.        The patient’s everyday life assistance – A certified nursing assistants day starts with providing physical help for residents and patients to do necessary activities which they cannot perform by themselves. Here are some specific everyday CNA responsibilities;

  • Daily bathing is a necessary activity which must be done to ensure the patient’s personal hygiene.  This can include giving them the sponge bath or help to the shower.  Their level of mobility will be the main factor in your overall level of involvement in this process.
  • Dental care, brushing dentures or helping them brush their teeth at the start of the day, after meals and before bedtime.
  • Accompanying the patient to the bathroom. Make sure to walk them in since slippery toilets are a common cause of injury among the elderly. Also be mindful of waste removal and its proper disposal.
  • Clothing the patients. Most of the time a CNA has to decide for them and pick out what’s best to wear in any occasion especially if they are unable to communicate. Keep watch and assist them if they soil their clothing.
  • Proper grooming is an essential. This can include hair removal and or hair care (shampooing, shaving, combing) which are both done daily. This will help them look and feel good.
  • Transporting and assisting the patient which includes helping them stand, sit and helping them walk or pushing their wheelchairs.
  • Night time care activities.  This can include assisting them to bed and ensuring they are comfortable in the process.
  • Providing a healthy diet or proper nutrition. Make sure the patient gets their prescribed food, drinks and snacks. You, as the CNA, have to provide the meals and drinks, and depending on their ailment, you may have to grind their food or spoon feed them. Daily logs their calorie intake is a must and shall be done daily.

2.       The patient’s medical needs, checks, and updates – A certified nursing assistant’s primary job is to assist the nurses and doctors in monitoring patients and their health conditions. Because of their closeness and proximity to the patients and residents, they build the most trust and friendship amongst all the medical professionals. A CNA can be a treasure trove of valuable knowledge and information for doctors and nurses and can assist them at arriving at a better evaluation and conclusion of the patient’s medical condition.Usually, these medical practitioners interact less with the patients and have found CNAs to be one of the best sources of information.  Your medical duties are as follows:

  • CNA responsibilities include the checking of blood pressures and pulse rates, monitoring vital signs and constant visual checks of the individual patient. You must also check their weights and measures them to ensure the total well being of a patient.
  • Though a CNA is not allowed to prescribe medication to patients, they are expected to administer medications. You should observe at all times the specific times and the particular medication being given throughout the day.  Documentation is a must, as you log the administered medication in the Medication Administration Record (MARs) book as proof. lt is important to note that this role may change or vary from state to state and from one medical institution to the next.
  • CNA’s should watch out for bed sores and make sure there are no creases in the bed sheets.  These two things can do damage and health complications if left unchecked. They must also know how to dress minor wounds and administer proper wound management.
  • The constant monitoring of the patient’s bowel movement is part of a CNA’s job. This will give the doctors an overview of the patient or resident medical condition. The decision to administer suppositories, enema’s or laxatives must be directed by doctors and nurses.
  • In the case of diabetic patients, it is imperative that certified nursing assistants must know how to efficiently administer proper diabetic care, blood glucose checks and how to rightly apply insulin whether it’s done through needle injection or insulin pen. Also, since these patients are more vulnerable to wounds and infections, make sure to apply proper wound care and monitoring.

3.        The patient’s holistic well-being – as a practicing certified nursing assistant, one should understand that many patients believe they need other means to improve their well being.  This can be in form religious activities, meaningful engagement, social interactions and any event that adds value to a better quality of life. We need to provide a healthy and conducive environment so as to improve their overall well-being. Here are good examples of a CNA’s responsibilities in creating a more open and healing environment.

  • Organizing daylong events that provide fun-filled and uplifting entertainment for an individual or a group. This could be in the form of watching movies, listening to the radio, reading and sharing stories together, playing board games, doing crossword puzzles or any other type of game or activity that is both fun and engaging.
  • Doing specific favors to celebrate an individual patient or resident during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and commemoration of past personal triumphs.
  • Providing them the necessary materials or abilities to practice their respective religion.  Because patients are all different and have different needs, you must be mindful to give them the opportunities to practice their beliefs and never interfere.  Furthermore, there will be times in which their beliefs contradict yours.  It is your duty to ensure your beliefs do not interfere with theirs and that you still provide them adequate abilities to practice regardless of the difference.

To conclude, a certified nursing assistant can be a rewarding and rich career.  But it has its requirements.  Beyond having exceptional skills, you must also possess an experience born out of hard work and total dedication to detail.  You must truly take to heart the mastery of this craft, and ensure all CNA duties and responsibilities are taken seriously and followed at all times.

These job descriptions must not only be engraved in your heart and soul, you must know it like the back of your hand. But the greatest reward to the CNA profession is not just it’s financial blessings but the joy and satisfaction of serving the elderly, the injured and assisting the very ill to find personal peace in their last days.  You are a friend, a medical professional, and a guide.


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