5 Key Roles of Nursing Assistant in Hospitals

Often considered as nurses' aides or orderlies, nursing assistants are healthcare professionals, responsible for offering primary patient care in different healthcare facilities. Nursing assistants or more precisely, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), help patients with different healthcare needs. They generally work under the supervision of a licensed practical or registered nurse.

A CNA can work in various health settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, personal residences, assisting living facilities, and adult care facilities. The roles and responsibilities are more or less similar for a CNA, regardless of where they work. Considering the diverse needs of different patients, the daily tasks performed by a CNA are seemingly endless.

To qualify as a certified nursing assistant, you have to fulfill some requirements. So, before we elaborate on the roles of a nursing assistant in hospitals, let's shed some light on the prerequisites for becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Educational Requirements and Certifications To Become Certified Nursing Assistant

Unlike many other nursing professions, a CNA doesn't require a bachelor's or a higher degree to practice. Having said that, a postsecondary award or certificate, following a formal training, is needed. The training basically comprises key nursing principles along with practical clinical work under supervision.

Certified nursing assistant training programs are conducted by many vocational colleges, technical schools, and community colleges across the United States. Also, some nursing homes and hospitals do offer CNA certification classes.

A graduate – who has already completed a certified nursing assistant program and met the state-specific educational requirements – has to clear an exam to show their professional proficiency and get listed on the state registry. However, you can always approach your state board of nursing to get the right information on how to become a CNA in Yakima.

Now that you know what it takes to become a CNA, let's discuss 5 key roles of a nursing assistant in hospitals:

1. Assisting Patients With Their Daily Activities: This is perhaps the most important of all the roles performed by CNAs. They help patients who are unable to perform their day-to-day tasks and take care of themselves due to some medical condition, injuries, or old age. These tasks may include:

  • Bathing and cleaning a patient.
  • Combing hair, shaving beard, brushing teeth, and cutting nails.
  • Helping a patient wear a dress and use the toilet.
  • Transferring and repositioning a patient from the bed to wheelchair and vice versa.
  • Enabling them to eat food and participate in various activities.

 2. Listening to Patients' Health Concerns: As a CNA, you have to assist your nursing supervisor in their daily tasks. This includes interacting with patients while performing your own duties. You may be required to listen to their health concerns and note them down. The information collected this way should then be presented to the nurses accurately.    

 3. Measuring Vitals: While being engaged in your task of helping patients with their everyday tasks, you may be required to measure their vital signs too. This way you'll assist your supervisor in keeping an eye on a patient's health. You will be taught how to measure blood pressure, body temperature, body weight, pulse rate, and pain level on a regular basis during your CNA training.

 4.Housekeeping: Despite being very crucial,this is one responsibility that most CNAs often ignore. When patients are in a situation wherein they are unable to care for themselves, it is quite obvious that they won't be able to keep their surroundings organized too. For such folks, you may need to clean their rooms, change their bed sheets and pillows, and arrange different things each day or every few days.

 5. Tending to Patients' Problems and Issues: You have to deal with patients with multiple health issues. The nature of these issues may vary from patient to patient. As a CNA, you are expected to address such problems while efficiently managing your time. In the case of some patients, you may need to clean them and dress them up. Others may require you to prevent the occurrence of bed sores. All in all, you have to be on your toes to effectively address the varied needs of different patients.  


The job of a certified nursing assistant can be stressful and demanding. However, if you are into this profession and efficiently performing your duties, you can certainly make a considerable difference in people's lives.







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