The job of a CNA or certified nursing assistant has become a very popular career in recent years. According to many analysts, in the next 3 years, there will be over 200,000 more CNA positions available so as to meet the growing need for elderly care. With such future job security and potential salary raises, it is easy to see why so many are looking at this wonderful opportunity and getting certified today.
Furthermore, becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant is relatively easy and does not require years of training like other medical professions. There is no need for a college education and a potential CNA can become certified in as little as a few months.
So before you make a decision on whether or not you want to join such a promising career, you should know exactly what a CNA’s responsibility is and what duties they must perform on a daily basis. Being a nursing assistant is a very special job and requires hard work and determination. But, if you understand what your overall CNA responsibilities are going to be, then you will be able to make a better decision as to whether or not this job is for you.
A CNA has many responsibilities that they must perform over the course of a day. A CNA must work hard to ensure that their patients or residents are taken care of. This usually includes assisting your patient or resident with daily activity, providing personal care, giving medical attention, and even providing them with social interaction.
Because of the multitude of activities that a CNA must perform, they can work in retirement homes, hospitals, home health programs, a private doctor’s office, or any other place that manages patients and residents. The patients who need the care of a CNA are usually elderly, or have some type of disability but this isn’t always the case.
CNA responsibilities can be broken into three categories: Daily Living and Assistance, Medical Care and Monitoring, and Overall Wellbeing. To give you a better idea of what each one entails, we have listed the four below and have given some specific tasks that are involved with each. This list is not all inclusive considering all the different work environments and types of medical teams that a CNA could find themselves in. But it does serves as a tool for which a potential Nursing Assistant can use to make a decision about joining such a profession.
Daily Living and Assistance
While taking care of a resident or patient, it is important that a CNA be responsible for that patient’s overall daily living and assistance. In essence, you will assist them in performing any activity that they cannot perform themselves. In some cases, they can perform the activity but will still requirement monitoring and assistance if needed. Some specific daily living and assistance responsibilities are as follows:
- Providing proper nutrition for a healthy diet is important. CNA responsibilities include providing food, drink and snacks but not cooking them. Depending on the situation, you may have to just serve the meals, and provide drinks throughout the day. Some patients require assistance with their meal, such as grinding their food, feeding them, or meal replacement shakes. Furthermore, you will need to log their
caloric intake and verify that they are eating a nutritious diet.
- Giving assistance in the bathroom. This includes walking the person to the bathroom for their safety if needed. You also maybe required to assist them in waste removal and appropriate disposal.
- Mouth care, including brushing their dentures, is a daily responsibility. A patient’s teeth should be brushed right after awakening and after every meal. As a CNA you will normally have to assist the patient if they have dentures, by soaking, and brushing if they have real teeth.
- Bathing patients or giving them a sponge-bath. This is a daily evolution and will also be performed any time it is warranted.
- Clothing the individual. You may have to pick out what they wear if they are unable to communicate to you. Unexpected clothing changes will happen since accidental spills and soiling of materials will happen frequently.
- Facial and hair care, such as shampooing, drying, and combing shall be preformed on a daily basis. This will also include makeup and any other things that the patient needs to do in order to make themselves feel appropriate for that day’s activities. If your patient is a male, then you will need to assist them with shaving their face, and if they are a lady, then help them to shave their legs and underarms. Typically underarm and leg hair stop growing for older patients, however male facial hair continues to grow for elderly individuals.
- Transporting and assisting is a big part of CNA responsibilities. This includes walking with them, pushing their wheelchair if they are in one, assisting them to stand up and sit down. Sometimes a lifting device is used to aid in transporting a patient from their bed to a wheel chair. Either way, it is apart of CNA responsibilities to ensure the patient or resident has a safe means of mobility regardless of their ailment.
- Putting individuals to bed. This can include normal bedtime routine, change of clothes, dental hygiene, etc. It is the job of a CNA to make sure that the patient is secure and comfortable in bed, and provided with proper sleepwear, pillows, and blankets.
Medical Care and Monitoring Responsibilities
As a member of the medical team, a CNA is responsible for assisting any nurses or doctors in the monitoring of a patient and their health conditions. As a CNA you have continuous direct access to the patients and are a great source of knowledge for the doctors or nurses who don’t interact with the patient as much.
On a daily basis you will have the following CNA responsibilities so as to ensure the well being and medical condition of all your patients and residents:
- Dressing minor wounds, and wound care in general. Bed sores are also a frequent thing to monitor. Therefore, you must check for them and verify there are no creases in the bed sheets. Creases increase the chance of a bed sore and can cause health complications if gone unnoticed.
- CNA responsibilities also include diabetic care, blood glucose checks and administration of insulin through a needle or insulin pen. Diabetic patients also tend to require more intensive wound care and thus need more monitoring.
- Bowel movement management programs are often a part of a CNA’s responsibilities. Because the bowel movements of a patient or resident change over time, it is important that you monitor this to ensure that there is no change in their medical condition. Suppositories, enema’s, and other forms of laxatives are to be administered from time to time, when directed by a doctor or RN.
- Administering medications are CNA responsibilities. This role and responsibility varies from state to state, and the individual institution, however, as it is with all states, a CNA cannot prescribe a medication. They can only administer it. If administering medication is part of your duty, you will have specific times when medications are given throughout the day. You will document and log the administered medications in a Medication Administration Record (MARs) book thus verifying that they have received their needed medication.
- CNA responsibilities also include checking blood pressures and pulse rates throughout the day. Vital sign monitoring and visual checking of the individuals are all very important to verify their overall well being. Checking patient weights and recording them are also a CNA responsibility.
Overall Well Being
Aside from daily activities and medical attention, a patient or resident needs other aspects to help their overall well being. This could stem from engaging activities, social interaction, or anything that just improves their overall quality of life.
As a CNA, it is your responsibility to ensure that the resident’s environment is conducive and that they are taken care of. The following are more specific examples of CNA responsibilities dealing with the overall well-being of that patient.
- Providing entertainment is one of the CNA responsibilities required throughout the day. This may include reading to an individual or group, providing means to watch television or listen to the radio, playing games, crossword puzzles, or any other type of game. It needs to be a safe activity that is not also fun, but engaging.
- Special requests made on occasion by an individual, normally something somewhat common like getting something specific for them, or doing something that they ask you to do that you don’t do on an every day basis.
- Administering heating pads and other forms of therapeutic relief of pain, such as icy hot, massaging the affected area is sometimes requested by a patient.
Other CNA Responsibilities
Another major responsibility of a CNA includes following proper protocol and state regulations. This is important, and is constant at all times. Following patients rights, fair treatment, and confidentiality are CNA responsibilities that if performed inadequately, can cause major legal problems for you and your employer.
Proper paperwork and documentation of actions are requirements for a CNA as well. Keeping in good communication with fellow co-workers and having a mutual respect for each other, as well as the residents is a major part of being a CNA.
Most CNA curriculums focus on understanding the medical team framework and the ethics or legal aspects of the job. You shouldn’t fear these sort of requirements because you will be thoroughly trained on all aspects when you start your CNA training. But it is important that you realize, one of your greatest CNA responsibilities is to protect your patients and their rights and to work together with the medical team so as to provide the most beneficial care for your residents.
So What Responsibilities does a Nursing Assistant Have?
CNA responsibilities sound like a tremendous task, and it is at times. Sometimes a CNA has 10 or more people to care for and sometimes they only have a couple. It takes a dedicated individual to perform the tasks involved and ensure the well being of your patients. CNA jobs are in demand, and easily found anywhere. If you start your career as a nursing assistant, you will have tremendous job security, good pay and the flexibility to work just about anywhere in the U.S.
If you feel as though you are up to the task and want to become a certified nursing assistant, training programs are readily available and easy to locate. Once you start your training, we at the CNA Exam Cram have many free resources that will help you pass your certification exams and prepare you for the job search. We offer free CNA Practice Exams, CNA Pretests, Study Guides, and more.
So we wish you the best of luck and hope to see you one day as a successful CNA, helping your patients and resident live fulfilling and enjoyable lives.