CNA Job Description – Duties And Responsibilities

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.

CNA Aptitudes

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.
  • CompassionCompassion 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 matterjust do your best to apply this compassion into your care plan.
  • EmpathyThis 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?

Quick Tip: If you’re interested in becoming a CNA, we highly recommend reading our expert articles on How To Get Free CNA Training as well as What Sort of Salary to Expect

CNA Duties

Your work will involve helping nursing home residents get through their daily activities

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.

We’ve wrtten some other more detailed posts on this as well. Read: Duties of a CNA and Introduction to CNA Training Also read about the limits to the job description of a CNA

There’s another good writeup over at where there’s even a job prospect outlook for the nurse aide field as a whole.

19 Responses to CNA Job Description – Duties And Responsibilities

  1. Tammy Smith October 26, 2010 at 1:28 am #

    I am looking for the Free CNA training in Colorado Spring CO ??

    • Mrs. Smith CNA. November 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

      You can not find free CNA training in any state. Because it is a actual college course and you will receive college credits for it.
      I would recommend going to your local unemployment office and asking to speaking with someone about college classes and assistance with payment.
      you should be able to file for a small grant through the state and they will pay for the class.
      Thatch how mine was paid for and I didn’t half to pay it back. If you pay for it yourself your looking at 650.00 not including book fees and uniforms for class and your mandatory physical. which is all pay for under a grant.

      • Mrs. Gates, CNA February 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

        This is where you are wrong. I received my CNA through the company that I previouly worked for in the state of Missouri. The nursing homes here train their employees to become CNA’s and then they test out in the facility witht he state monitoring everything. I received mine in 1999 and have had it ever since. It never costed me a dime and my BF just received his as well as his CMT and it didn’t cost anything.

      • ashley July 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

        Hannibal Mo there is only one place that does it for free & that’s Beth haven nursing home

      • Jennifer November 7, 2011 at 7:22 am #

        That is NOT true Mrs. Smith. You do not receive college credits for attending CNA classes and there are FREE CNA classes in some states, like Connecticut through Nursing homes with CNA programs.

        • Admin November 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

          Hi Jennifer, You do actually receive college credits.. as much as 6 at some Community Colleges. The courses at Community Colleges are longer than those at vocational centers.

      • Musa Hunter November 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

        DO you have to just take care of old people?

      • Tiffany December 13, 2012 at 2:45 am #

        I took advantage of assistance from the government and it was totally FREE. I got my classes, books, uniform, stethescope, shoes, jacket, watch, and free gas while training to become a CNA. And it only took 9 months for me to receive my certificate. I am a CPhT now, and everything was free when I trained to become a CPhT as well. And it also took 9 months for me to finish. In Nebraska you get a lot more than what I recieved.

  2. Sophia January 13, 2012 at 2:58 am #

    I have a dilemma. I have been working for an elderly lady for 3 years. She lives with her family. They expect us to clean up after them wash their dishes sweep and mop up after them and even clean up after their kids after theyve finished playing and doing their art time. Last I checked I do not work for molly maid and I am not the house butler. They say I get paid to clean up. I want to bring this subject up to them but I need to know where I stand and if I am right. I thought I was hired to care for one lady and her light house cleaning not the whole family. Please someone reply to me asap.

    Thank you

    • Angela June 19, 2012 at 3:06 am #

      I am having the same problem, they want me to mop the entire house, clean all three bathrooms and even the pool deck. Something is not right there and as soon as I figure out a way to approach the situation I will.

  3. Derek August 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Angela, are you employed as a CNA? also are you employed through an agency? I did home care for a while, and when I started I was told that the client paid by the type of care they are contracted with the agency to recieve. So they told me if i’m only there for 2 hours to change/bath them if I have remaining time I an not to do ANY house work or chores for them. I was told if they need me to do those things for them I need to tell the agency so they can contact the client and change the agreament and charge them more. I don’t know if it’s the same in your situation or not but I would speak to your agency if your employed through one. Of course if they requested I do something for them that they weren’t contracted for every once in a while I just did it it’s not a big deal. If it happned frequently i would say something.

    and for anyone who is looking to become a CNA: DON’T, IT SUCKS!!!!!! Some not all, clients will treat you like shit! and if you work for a facility you’ll have about 14 residents on a good night. If someone calls off you night end up with up to 18 residents your caring for. The facilities don’t give a (removed) about you and will write you up for every little thing they can. Some facilities are better then others but in the end they all the same.

    • Dora October 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

      Well Derek i agree with you completely about home health and also the facilities. All my experiences as a aide have been horrible. Its more like a F U slave for me relationship. i hate it but it is a good step if you plan on furthering your nursing career

  4. guerline October 17, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    Yes. I took a free can class at a nursing home at long island in Ny for 4 weeks about13years ago.the trick the course is free include free book only thing to pay is your licence. And work for them for 6 month. Also go direct to the licence Dept they have a list of many places.

  5. Melissa December 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I recently have obtained my Nursing Assistant Certification. I live on the border of two states. How would I go about obtaining certification in one state, while living in another; and, also, having certification in the state that I live in. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!!

    • Medical Professional February 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      You can obtain your CNA in either state and after completion you can ask for the license to be endorsed to the other state. I am currently certified in both Wisconsin and Illinois. You will habve to pay an extra fee for fingerprints and background check once ytou begin the process of endorsing your license.

  6. Medical Professional February 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    You can start by doing research with your local WorkNet Center (Government program) assists with finding founding for training such as CNA, phlebothomist, and others. You can also obtain FREE training through the Department of Labor and their programs. But you have to do research about it. I would help you more but I am more familiar with WIsconsin and Illinois resources. Good luck!

  7. Pinoy August 29, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    The Pay Was Never Good and the job was Really certified to become a slave I care a lot for my Residents the people that runs the show is the only one’s getting rich. we don’t even get a good medical benefits

  8. Melissa December 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    I work at a CBRF and I was hired as a CNA and know they have me working as a dietician can I keep my CNA if I am working as a dietician?

  9. Linda Meehan January 5, 2020 at 3:43 am #

    I’m an RN that has climbed the ladder. I understand how many of you may feel and it breaks my heart.
    If you have a job that you’re not satisfied with, I agree, Get out! Those people are human, and it could be you in that dirty diaper. What were you thinking? Why did you choose this profession? What were you looking for? A paycheck shouldn’t be your motivation. You are rewarded in so many other ways. People are depending on you to be the brightest star of their day sometimes. You may be the only family they have. As the nurse, I depend on you to be my eyes and ears. I respect what you tell me. Please never doubt your worth. You are more important than you realize. Only loving hearts should apply! This is not a job for sissys’.

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