Certified nursing assistants play a key role as members of the comprehensive healthcare team in a variety of medical settings – CNAs are employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, community care facilities and as home health aides in patient’s homes. Regardless of where you work, many of your responsibilities will be the same; however, some duties may differ depending on the type of facility or location of employment.
To better understand the job description of a CNA, let’s first take a look at some essential personal traits that all CNAs must have. First and foremost, your profession as a CNA will be centered on one universal concept – Providing the best care possible to your patient. The characteristics of Care, Compassion and Empathy are foundational to the ultimate success of this concept.
- Care - As a healthcare professional, your ultimate goal is to provide impeccable care to your patients to the full extent of your training regardless of condition or setting. Listening to your patient’s needs plays an enormous factor in this category. When you take the time to listen to patients, you can better understand and address their needs and concerns.
- Compassion – Compassion is defined as the feelings you have toward a person, who is suffering or grieving in some way. While you may not completely grasp all the details of their condition – it doesn’t matter – just do your best to apply this compassion into your care plan.
- Empathy – This trait is similar to compassion, but it takes this human feeling one step further; it requires a higher degree of understanding your patient’s needs and concerns. Perhaps the best way to exhibit empathy to your patients is to try to imagine yourself in their shoes. For example, what would you want your CNA to do if you were sick, scared and in pain?
Now that we understand the characteristics and traits essential to your career as a CNA, let’s explore a list of detailed job descriptions every CNA will encounter at some time during their career. The following job descriptions will fall under the typical scope of duties for CNAs in a variety of healthcare settings:
- Personal Hygiene – This includes bathing and washing patients as well as helping them to shower if needed. An important part of patient hygiene is to assist in grooming, such as brushing the patient’s hair and trimming their nails if needed. Many patients also need help getting dressed daily.
- Infection Control – Proper protocol in controlling the spread of germs in a medical setting is vital for every member of the healthcare team. As a CNA, you will need to stay current with your continued education courses concerning the most up-to-date techniques for minimizing the spread of germs that transport diseases. Washing your hands frequently and disposing of soiled linens and other materials in the proper manner also plays an active role in controlling infection.
- Dietary Care – Adequate nutrition for your patients is your responsibility as a CNA. Some patients are able to eat on their own, while others will require direct feeding. Often a necessary component in patient nutrition, you will need to record how much and what the patient eats.
- Administering Treatments – As a CNA, you handle medical equipment you to include bladder scanners, intermittent pneumatic compression devices, anti-embolism stockings, bedpans and so forth. You may also help to administer treatment such as patient massage.
- Reporting – As a CNA, you will have direct contact with patients daily. This allows you to be on the frontline as a key member of the patient’s healthcare team. In this capacity, your observations will play an important role in the healthcare plan. You will keep a record of the patient’s health status to include vital signs, intake and output as well as other necessary observations. As a CNA, you will communicate these recordings to other CNA shifts, Registered Nursing staff and Charge Nurses.
- Emotional Support – In addition to physical care, the emotional needs of the patients must be taken into consideration. Your daily routine with patients will mean that as a CNA, you typically spend the most time with them. This will allow you to better understand their daily moods, fears and concerns. In this role, think of yourself as the conduit between the patients and other nursing staff regarding the patient’s needs. Additionally, just taking the time to listen and counsel the patient can help to relieve some of their concerns and daily stressors.
The job description of a CNA, regardless of setting encompasses many of the same duties; however, these responsibilities may vary slightly in certain environments. For example, in a hospital, you may take on additional responsibilities depend on your assigned floor.
Conversely, CNAs employed as home-health aides handle many ancillary duties unrelated to the medical responsibilities, such as housework and cooking.
While some duties may differ depending on location, it’s important to remember that as a professional CNA, the time-tested personal characteristics of care, compassion and empathy should follow you wherever your career takes you.
There’s another good writeup over at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos327.htm where there’s even a job prospect outlook for the nurse aide field as a whole.