How to Become a Nursing Assistant


A Nursing Assistant is an important member of the nursing team. Generally supervised by a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse, a Nursing Assistant provides basic and necessary care to patients. By working under the watchful eyes of senior and more experienced nurses, a nursing assistant is able to add value and worth to the nursing care staff.

If you wish have a fast paced career in the medical field full of challenges then this is ideal setup for you. It is also a great way for you to enter the medical field and find your niche and area of expertise as nurses may eventually progress and find their calling. This is an ideal career if you enjoy high patient and personnel involvement.

Education Requirements

Apart from the basic high school diploma, a Nursing Assistant is usually required to have a postsecondary award or certificate in nursing. Vocational schools and community colleges may offer short courses that may last up to 8 or 12 weeks on nursing assistant education.

Basic academic skills are required of students such as mathematics, computer skills, biology and so on. Education specific to nursing can take the form of anatomy, physiology, infection control, basic nursing, nutrition, communication skills and so on. At this point a candidate will get familiar with basic medical terminology and how to provide assistance and aide to the nursing team.

It is important for aspiring nurses to take a competency exam that is recognized by employers which leads to a certification in nursing assistance. Certified Nursing Assistants maintain a minimum standard of excellence and proficiency. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing can provide you with the relevant information you need on acquiring a certification in nursing. With certification you can find the necessary means to boost your nursing career.

Job Duties

The job duties of a nursing assistant are quite straight forward and will vary depending on the size of the department, policies, niche and level of experience. Job duties of nursing assistants also differ from specialty to specialty among various departments. For instance, the job duties of a pediatric nurse will differ from that of an orthopedic nurse.

However, listed below you will find a set of job duties that are common to nursing assistants across all specialties as they are generic. Use this list to prepare yourself for what may be expected of you down the road. You may have to perform the duties listed below or a combination of any such duties that may fall under the area of nursing assistance.

  1. Provide basic medical and health care to patients which may include giving them medicine, taking their vitals and so on.
  2. Look after the hygiene and grooming needs of patients which may include bathing, dressing, changing the bed linen and sanitizing.
  3. Ensure that the patient gets their food, water and medicine on time and that it is in accordance with their health needs.
  4. Transport and guide patients around the healthcare facility using a wheelchair or support.  Assist the patient with daily routine movement such as waking, getting up and visiting the toilet.
  5. Get the patient ready for examinations, procedures, treatments by getting them changed, adjusting the surroundings or providing assistance for mobility.
  6. Take and record the patient’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse, breathing, calorie intake and so on. This information should be closely monitored and recorded.
  7. Provide emotional and physical support to patients so that they can be mentally stable and physically ready. It is important that patients are not surrounded by negativity and depression.
  8. Give support to and educate the family and friends of the patient so that they are well versed with the situation and not left in the dark.
  9. Ensure that instruments and items used for the patient are clean, sterile and hygienic.
  10. Provide all kinds of essential support to the nursing team in the treatment and betterment of the patient.

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, the employment increase for nursing aides is expected to be 20% during the period of 2010 to 2020. Due to the increasing average age of the population, Nursing Assistants will be needed to look after patients in health care centers, retirement homes, nursing homes and so on. Also, as societies are beginning to understand the value of preventative medicine, frequent visits to hospitals and medical centers can be witnessed which puts an increase in the demand.

Salary Prospects

According to, the average annual salary for Nursing Assistants is $26,040, while the top 10% can earn up to $32,364 on an average, annually. The earning potential can also depend on level of experience and type of specialty, among other factors.

Further Reading

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