Nursing assistants are vital members of the health care team who are responsible for performing basic patient care to those who are physically injured, ill and disabled. Because they serve the needs of patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities or nursing homes in a more personalized manner, they are often called direct care workers. They need to work closely with patients and the patient’s family as they are often tasked to observe, record and report the patients’ response to the medical care given.
Nursing assistants have the freedom to choose their work environment. Those who would like to be exposed with different kinds of patients in a much larger scale may opt to work at a hospital while those who would like to provide long-term care may choose to work at a nursing home or rehabilitation centers. Others can also find employment at a physician’s office, home health agencies, private homes, clinics and mental institutions.
Working as a nursing assistant can be demanding and tiring. It will require hours of walking, standing and lifting. Those who are working in hospitals are under the direct supervision of the doctors, registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN). They are always in contact with patients as they provide personal patient care such as feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing and supervising exercise routines. In order to provide patients the best quality of care, nursing assistants also perform support function such as monitoring vital signs, transporting patients, clean and change beddings, assist ambulatory patients, answer call signals, turn and reposition bedridden patients, apply dressings, and prepare patients for treatment or surgery. In some cases, experienced certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are often tasked to set up medical equipments such as X-ray machines or catheters, sort supplies, and assist in medical procedures.
The certified nursing assistants who work in long-term nursing care facilities perform the same responsibilities as those who work in hospitals. However, CNAs in nursing homes are often regarded as the principal caregivers since they spend more time and has a lot more contact with the resident patients compared to the other members of the health care staff.
It is important for certified nursing assistants to be proficient in their profession in order to provide quality care to their patients. This is why nursing assistant education and training is vital. The best kind of nursing assistant training program runs for 6-12 weeks and requires their students to finish at least 75 hours of classroom instruction and at least 100 hours of supervised training at an approved clinical setting. The program should consist of lectures and demonstrations of the most basic and important patient care such as bathing, grooming, ambulating, feeding and supervising exercise routines. The program must also consists formal instruction on ethics, anatomy and physiology, health, nutrition, patient rights, safety and emergency procedures, preventive measures and infection control. CNA training programs must also require students to have hands-on training through laboratory experience.