Nurses' Aides In The Healthcare Profession

A nurse’s aide is a person that provides personal care needs to patients of all ages. They are also known as a Certified Nurses Aide, Certified Nurses Assistants, State Tested Nurses Aide, Certified Nurses Attendants or more commonly a CNA. It's important to note that to be a CNA one must hold certification. The duties are similar. Although they provide very basic care needs, nurse’s aides are vital in the healthcare industry. They work directly with patients daily having constant interaction and can give accurate information regarding a patient to the supervising registered nurse or physician.

Nurse's Aides Work and Duties

A nurse aide usually reports directly to a registered nurse. They provide all documentation during their care to them. When handling patients, they assist patients by providing the following care:
  • Toilet assistance and catheter care
  • Feeding patients
  • Bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Making their beds
  • Consistent turning of bed bound patients
  • Taking vital signs such as their pulse, temperature and blood pressure
  • Safety awareness
  • Depending on training they can dispense medication
  • Aid with range of motion exercises
  • Transporting wheelchair bound patients and assisting patients walking
  • Post mortem care

Employment Outlook for Nurse's Aides

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Nurse’s Aides employment opportunities are expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is the fastest in the healthcare industry. Part of this growth is due to the demand in the fast growth of the senior population. More seniors have retired and are in assisted living facilities or needing care in their home. The median average annual wage in 2010 was $24,010. On the low-end nurse’s aides made close to $17,000 and on the high end they made approximately $34,000.

Opportunities for Advancement for Nurse's Aides

A nurse aide can start to focus on specialized skills if they would like more experience to progress into further advanced roles. They can work with specific technologies or focus on a specific age group such as senior care. Many nurse aides look towards administrative positions such as supervisors, CPR trainers, or trainers of other nurse’s aides. Their focus should be on taking additional management and leadership classes. The majority of those who want to move up enroll in school to become Registered Nurses. Having the background as a nurse’s aide is a good solid foundation.

The Work Environment of a Nurse's Aide

Nurse aides can work in a variety of medical care settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 55 percent of nurse’s aides work in nursing and residential care facilities. They are most popular there because of the greater need for assisting rehabilitative patients. Nurse aides are also widely needed in general hospital settings, assisted living communities; community health care centers, physicians’ offices, outpatient facilities, and in patients’ homes as a home health aide. Because of the care they provide, nurse aides' hours are around the clock. There could be some patients who need 24-hour care. Home Health Aides (HHA) training classes prepare the home health aide for this work environment.

The Necessary Training for a Nurse's Aide

The training program to be a nurse’s aide is not very long. Depending upon the healthcare experience an individual has, they can have their completion certificate or diploma between one and six months once enrolled in CNA training classes. If the nurse aide then wants to become certified, they will need an additional 75 hours or so of training. Those with experience usually have a background as a Personal Care Aide or have volunteered in a medical facility setting. There is also a state competency test they must pass. Certain states do not recognize nurses’ aides or certified nurses aide. They must be certified by the state as a State Tested Nurses Aide (STNA). The STNA training classes are found more so in Ohio. The STNA training classes, CNA training classes, and HHA training classes offer many of the same programs and courses.

 Because these are non-specialized tasks, a person wanting to become a nurse’s aide has a few options of where to get their educational training.

 Some programs do not require a GED or High School Diploma for admissions, but to become certified you would need one. They can be trained through:

  • Vocational High Schools
  • Medical Facilities such as Nursing Facilities
  • Healthcare Training Schools
  • Community Colleges
  • Red Cross

The Tasks Nurses' Aides Are Trained For

Students learn basic skills such as communicating with patients and medical staff, prevention of falls and other accidents, and health care concepts such as CPR while in school. They may also take courses involving nutrition, human anatomy, physiology, and communication skills. There are many continuing education classes a nurse’s aide can take as well. Much of their training will be on the job performing the duties under supervision. The career as a nurse’s aide can be daunting at first when looking at the hours and dealing with certain patients. It's a field where you must be compassionate and patient. You must use your listening and speaking skills effectively for your partnership to work with your patients.