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What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

Certified Nursing Assistants, also known as CNA’s, are people who help patients or clients that have healthcare needs or need assistance in their activities of daily living. They may also provide bedside care, which include basic nursing procedures. The CNA’s are supervised by the Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse at all times.

The CNA is known by many other names. In the US, they may also be called as Patient Care Assistant (PCA), State Tested Nurse Aid (STNA) or Nursing Assistant-Registered (NA/R). In other countries, such as in the UK, the CNA may be called an Auxiliary Nurse (Aux-N), a Nursing Assistant (NA), a Healthcare Support Worker (HSW), a Nursing Tech (NT), a Healthcare Assistant (HCA), a Patient Care Associate or a Clinical Support Worker (CSA).

Regardless of what they are called, the tasks of the CNA’s are more or less the same. They have a very important role in the healthcare sector by doing the routine jobs in place of the RN’s, so the RN’s can concentrate on the tasks that only they can do.

However, because of the broad scope of the CNA’s job description, a regulating body needed to be established for the benefit of everyone concerned (i.e. employers, patients). CNA’s are often quite capable and hold a significant amount of experience in their work. But unfortunately, some of their tasks will be limited due to issues on legality or liability. It is, therefore, recommended that CNA’S become certified by the local regulating body, in order for employers to make the most of their performance. CNA’S who are aiming for certification may attend CNA classes to improve their skills and raise their market value to potential employers.

A CNA should not only be well-versed in routine healthcare, but must also be able to tell how a patient is doing and to report their condition back to the RN’s. An RN may be too busy to completely observe each patient, so the CNA’s should be able to do this for them. The main role of the CNA is to provide patients with basic assistance. These tasks include feeding, preventing patients from getting bedsores by repositioning them, assisting patients with moving about, applying dressings, cleaning the rooms and changing the linen. The CNA’s also measure and record patient output, food intake and vital signs, so that they can report any changes to the nurse. They are also involved in preparing patients for surgery, examination or treatment, and help transport the patients to the appropriate rooms.

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