Duties of a Nursing Assistant

The job title nursing assistant is frequently confused with nursing or with hospital janitors, both of which might seem logical to people who don’t work in the health care industry, but both are incorrect. A nursing assistant is neither a nurse, nor a janitor, the role of the certified nurse assistant is a patient centered role but could be seen more as a patient assistant than a nurse assistant.

People most attracted to nurse assistant careers enjoy helping others, especially those who need physical assistance. Nurse assistants aren’t registered nurses, but like nurses they are required to undergo specialist training and pass a state exam before they can be employed. Even though nurse assistants are not registered nurses, they still have an obligation of care to the patients they are assigned to care for.

The duties of a nurse assistant are often best defined by looking at a typical hospital with over worked nurses don’t have the time to deal with all of their patients for all of their needs, and where patients require more assistance than monitoring their vital signs. The majority of patients in a hospital are recovering from surgery, have an illness that leaves them weak and unable to help themselves, or children and the aged who need much more intensive care owing to their age.

It becomes immediately obvious that most of the patients mentioned above would require help with showering or bathing, ablutions, shaving or brushing hair, cutting nails, being fed, adjusting beds for comfort, changing linen, giving meds, getting dressed and so much more that nurses just can’t do when they’re under pressure to care for many more patients than they can effectively manage during their shift. Nurse assistants on the other hand are employed specifically to fill this gap, and are an essential part of any medical team trusted by patients, in many cases more trusted than doctors who rarely have the time to visit patients except during rounds.

The most important role of the nurse assistant however is the monitoring of a patient’s vital signs and comfort, and it is a significant responsibility of all nurse assistants to be competent in checking for signs of change in a patient, with negative changes being reported to more experienced medical staff, and positive changes being recorded in the patient chart. With experience most nurse assistants become adept at determining the status of a patient, and it is for this reason they are often described as the eyes and ears of registered nurses.

Aside from good observation skills, nurse assistants also need to be good communicators, and less obviously empathy is a very big part of their makeup. The nurse assistant who cannot empathise with their patient, and communicate with colleagues and patients is unlikely to enjoy their work. It is especially important that poor speakers improve their skills, or give thought to choosing a different career. Failing to communicate well could become a life threatening situation that is unlikely to be acceptable to colleagues, and should probably be considered the single most important duty of a nurse assistant.

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