Nursing Assistant

Nursing Assistant

As a Nursing Assistant, you provide basic patient care functions under the supervision of registered nurses and/or other licensed practical nurses. Other names for this position are nursing aide, geriatric aide, hospital attendant, and patient care assistant, and all offer you an outstanding health care career.

Description of  health care career information and the daily work:

You typically work with patients who are admitted to hospitals, recovering in rehabilitation facilities or residing in long term care facilities. You will have a broad range of duties, including assisting patients with adult daily living skills (e.g. bathing and walking patients, assisting patients in and out of bed, feeding patients who cannot feed themselves, dressing and shaving patients and making beds). You will also take vital signs, such as blood pressure, and provide skin care to patients. You will be responsible for answering signal lights, bells, or the intercom system to determine patients’ needs. You may also help patients keep the room neat and tidy. In nursing homes, nursing assistants have the most contact with patients of any staff member.

You will observe patients’ physical, mental, and emotional conditions and report any change to the nursing or medical staff. You may escort patients using a wheelchair to examinations, set up equipment, and store supplies. You must be physically fit as you are often required to lift/transfer/move objects weighing up to 60 lbs. and stand on your feet for over half of an eight hour shift. Jobs for Nursing Assistants exist in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospice organizations.

Most Nursing Assistants are full-time, but there are ample opportunities for part-time work in the evenings and weekends. These part-time shifts are especially convenient for high school or college level students.

Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification:

Nursing assistant positions require a high school diploma or equivalent plus specialized training as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Certified Nursing Assistants programs are offered through high schools, vocational-technical centers, and some community colleges. Training programs provide instruction and supervised clinical experience related to basic patient care, medical terminology, nutrition, patient care procedures, interpersonal/communication skills, basic anatomy, safety, and assisting with therapies. Supervised clinical experience for nursing assistants is provided in health care organizations. The programs vary in length depending whether they are full or part-time.


In 2002, the national median hourly wage for nursing assistants ranged between $8.98 in community care facilities for the elderly and $10.33 in local government. The hourly range was $10.61 to $16.39.

Career Path and/or Opportunities for Growth:

You can expand your skills by moving to critical care areas such as emergency departments, and intensive care units where there may be more critically ill patients. Some organizations may have a career ladder or lead Nursing Assistant positions. The Nursing Assistant role provides a great foundation for advancement to other health occupations with additional formal training. Some employers provide opportunities by simplifying the educational paths to advancement through tuition reimbursement, loan forgiveness programs and providing coursework at the worksite. With additional education, many Nursing Assistants move up to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), Radiologic Technologists, or Surgical Technologists.


Training to become a nursing assistant or certified nursing assistant comes in many forms. Training may be offered through the American Red Cross, community-based organizations, long-term care facilities, vocational high schools, and community colleges. Some long-term care facilities offer free training in exchange for then working at the facility for six months or more.
Long Term Care Careers

This site lists allows you to choose a town for information on providers, including long-term care facilities, that offer state-approved courses in your area to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

Professional Associations:

American Nursing Assistants Association
Box 165
Ottawa, KS 66067

National Association of Geriatric Nursing Assistants

National Network of Career Nursing Assistants