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Duties and Responsibilities of a CNA

Look at the CNA duties and responsibilities along with the educational qualification and salary details.
Aastha Dogra
A certified nursing assistant (CNA), also known as an orderly or nurse aide, is a non-technical worker who works in a hospital, clinic, or a nursing home. He/She may also work at a mental health facility. Some assistants provide care and assistance to the patients at their homes as well.
They are an important link between the patient and the registered nurse, providing all important information about the patient to her. They also help the registered nurse in conducting her duties.

Duties and Responsibilities

Personal Hygiene

This includes helping the patients to stand on their feet and assist them in taking a shower or alternately wash them. This is followed by getting the patients dressed, and then combing their hair. Once the patient is ready for the day, the assistant serves him/her meals.

Dietary Care

The assistants have to see to it that the patient is getting proper nutrition through meals. Sometimes, they have to keep a written record of the patient's food intake. If the patient is unable to eat himself, which is so often a case with older or terminally ill patients, it is the duty of the assistant to feed them properly.

Administering Medicines and Treatments

It is an important duty to administer medication and certain treatments, like enemas, catheterizations, massages, and suppositories to the patient as directed by the doctor.
Bear in mind that administering injections is not exactly in the scope of the nursing assistant. This is allowed in some states, while in some others, it isn't. This has to be discussed between the assistant and the registered nurse, and then accordingly, the job should be assigned.

Medical Record

Another important duty is to take a daily stock of the patient's health by checking and taking down the temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure, and to maintain the medical record of patients on a daily basis.

Emotional Support

It is essential to provide emotional support to the patients too. In some cases, they might be the only one socializing with them, thus increasing their responsibility towards them manifold.


The basic job description of a certified nursing assistant is more or less same, still, sometimes their duties may include - assisting the patient in exercising, accompanying them to the examination room, cleaning the patient's room as well, as making their bed.

Salary Range

As with the rest of the medical jobs in the health care sector, there is a shortage of staff in this profession as well. So, many a time, these assistants will find themselves over worked. However, this shortage is an opportunity in disguise as far as salary is concerned. Most of them today can earn anywhere between USD 28,721 to USD 35,260 per year.
The salary may vary according to the experience a person has, the number of shifts they work, and the state in which they are working. The per hour salary ranges between USD 14 and USD 17, with the lowest being in states like Texas and the highest in states like California and Pennsylvania.

Educational Qualification

For those of you who want to know how to become a certified nursing assistant, there is no single answer for that, as the educational requirements to enter this field vary from state to state. Some states have a requirement where in a person needs to have a high school diploma to enter this profession.
According to the central government, a CNA should have a seventy five hours of training and an additional sixteen hours of medical training monitored by authorities. There are a number of institutions, which offer this training such as certain high schools, colleges, universities, and some other institutions.
After the training is complete, a test has to be passed, following which the certification is provided. Sometimes, a certificate is provided only for working in a particular state. In such a case, to work in the other states, a person has to apply for reciprocity.
Many people in this profession find it rewarding, as it gives them an opportunity to take care of the people in need. This profession is also considered as a stepping stone to become a registered nurse, as many of the assistants opt to study further to get the registered nurse's degree.
This job can be a stepping stone to becoming a doctor, if you are keen on taking up the medical profession. According to the eligibility criteria, you can take up training after your high school or maybe, after you turn 16 (in some states), and then work for a while. This is a good experience to go to medical school later on.