What is a CNA? Duties and Requirements

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Some decades ago, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in birthrate. Now, the people born during those years are aging and are starting to seek the assistance of nursing facilities to care for them.

Nursing homes provide the elderly some warmth and care for their last couple of years.

With the growing number of aging people in these facilities, the demand for certified nursing assistants is also quickly rising.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has seen a significant increase in the demand for this career in the coming years.

So what is a CNA exactly?

A certified nursing assistant is a qualified member of the healthcare team that provides assistance to the nurses in caring for the elderly and other patients who find it laborious to do personal tasks on their own.

A CNA undergoes proper training and takes a certification exam to provide comprehensive services in various medical facilities.

Tasks and duties of a CNA

Registered nurses administer the type of work a certified nursing assistant does in a healthcare institution.

CNAs are not obliged to take orders from doctors, therapists or other CNAs; they only report to the registered nurse.

Most importantly, the title of CNA is only given to someone who does patient care under the direction of the RN; someone who advertises patient care services outside the RN’s supervision is not allowed to claim as a CNA.

A certified nursing assistant helps the patients in personal care, takes notes of the patients’ conditions and prepares them for treatment.

They help the patients in eating, toileting, getting dressed, bathing, and other personal errands the patients would need assistance with.

CNAs are also tasked by the RN to take occasional vital signs, heightsand weights of the patients. It is also the nursing assistant’s task to keep the rooms clean.

A vital requirement in becoming a CNA is hard work, patience, and compassion. The needs of individual patients vary; the CNAs need to patiently attend to those needs accordingly.

Becoming a CNA

A career as a certified nursing assistant is ideal for a person who loves taking care of other people. All patients need special attention althoughthey have various illnesses.

With this, a jovial and kind CNA would be of great assistance to them.

A college degree is not required in becoming a CNA; a high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement.

However, a person must have proper training in order to qualify for the CNA certification exam. There are formal training programs offered in institutions and there are also on-the-job trainings.

On-the-job trainings can be acquired in medical facilities; although these facilities often require the CNA to work for them after qualifying for the exam and getting the certification.

Age requirement for the training varies from state to state, but the range usually falls from 16 to 18 years old. You can find more in depth discussions on prerequisites for nursing in previous posts.


CNA examination has two parts—the written and clinicalsection.

A lot of reading must be done in order to successfully pass the written exam, while expertise in hands-on practice is vital in the clinical section.

The exam usually covers the methods of proper patient nursing as well as some medical technicalities.

More discussions on certification exams and trainings can be found here.

Employment and career enhancement

With the growing demand of certified nursing assistants, this career is deemed as resilient to recession.

People age and the demand will still continue to grow. CNAs are also likely to pursue better career opportunities like becoming registered nurses.

Registered nurses and CNAs would eventually retire in the passing of years so there will always be opportunities for the next generation of healthcare staff.

Further technological advancements would also present better training programs for the career—skills and qualifications would enriched.

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