A certified nursing assistant is a medically trained individual who works under the supervision of an RN (registered nurse) and/or an LPN (licensed practical nurse) and once qualified a CNA can find employment in a number of different medical settings including hospitals, doctors’ offices and residential care facilities.
Wherever they choose to work the primary function of a certified nursing assistant is to supplement the work of the more technically trained senior nursing staff. In many hospital situations it may be the CNA that a patient interacts with more than any other member of their medical team since it is usually the CNA who provides the basic daily care (bathing, feeding etc.) for them.
A certified nursing assistant is also very often the person who is responsible for a large amount of paperwork related to the people they are caring for so in addition to possessing a great deal of patience and an even disposition the successful CNA must also have a good eye for detail and develop great record keeping skills.
A certified nursing assistant is not qualified to make any medical decisions themselves and must always report to their nursing supervisors but what they report on a patient’s overall condition is often crucial to help those who do make clinical decisions make the right choices. The certified nursing assistant is a vital part of the team.
Outside a clinical setting such as a hospital a number of certified nursing assistants can be found working in private homes, providing the kind of basic care that family members of a patient may not have the time to provide.
The path to becoming a certified nursing assistant is a fairly rapid one, requiring far less time be spent in school than an RN or LPN has to. Many students gain experience as a CNA while going on to further their education part time to achieve higher levels of nursing certification.