A nurse's assistant, also called a nursing assistant, is responsible for providing direct care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. He or she may assist patients when they need to get out of bed or be transported to different areas in the medical facility. Most medical facilities require that their nursing assistants are certified.
A certified nurse's assistant is responsible for a variety of duties within the medical facility. Changing bedpans, pushing patients in wheelchairs, making beds, feeding patients, grooming them, and other general tasks are just a sample of job duties that this person may be called upon to perform. He or she may even check patients' vital signs, including blood pressure and temperature.
In order to become a nursing assistant, a person must possess a high school diploma. He or she will then need to enroll in an accredited program. Such programs usually last between six to 12 weeks. Vocational schools and community colleges offer programs where students take courses in nutrition, anatomy and physiology, infection control, and basic nursing skills. Some medical facilities even provide assistants with free on-the-job training that leads to certification.
A nurse's assistant should enjoy working with people and possess good communication skills. These nursing professionals must be compassionate people who are skilled at comforting the sick. They work closely with registered nurses (RNs), so they must be able to take direction from other medical professionals.
Since these people provide constant care to patients, they often have more contact with patients than other medical professionals in the facility. For this reason, they often form genuine relationships with patients. They can observe the emotional, mental, and physical conditions of patients so that they can report any fluctuations to nurses and physicians.
The nursing assistant's job is a demanding one, as they are often required to perform a great deal of physical tasks. They spend most of their shift on their feet, walking and standing. Each day, they may have to assist patients into or out of bed and since the job is physically strenuous, they must learn the proper way to lift patients. Not practicing proper lifting methods can cause the person to injure his or her back.
People who hold this job often work 40 hours a week and are required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some may be required to work 10- to 12-hour days. Those who wish to advance in the medical field may choose to receive further education in order to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).