Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) help with the activities of daily living and other healthcare needs at hospitals, nursing or residential care facilities, and mental health settings. Nursing Assistants work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Typical duties for a CNA include personal patient care such as bathing, feeding, and dressing, as well as support functions which include transporting patients, making beds, and answering patient calls. Clinical duties include taking vital signs, massages, helping patient to become ambulatory, and observation for signs of medical change. CNAs may also be called Geriatric Aides when employed in nursing homes or Patient Care Assistant at some hospitals. CNAs are often the principal caregivers, having far more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Since residents may stay in a nursing home for months or even years, aides are expected to develop ongoing relationships with them and respond to them in a positive, caring way.
The job market for CNAs is strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for CNAs will grow 8% through 2029, a much faster rate than average. The average annual salary for a certified nursing assistant is $30,720. The faster than average growth rate is largely due to an emphasis on rehabilitation and the long-term care needs of a rapidly growing population of those 75 years old and older. Employment will increase as a result of the expansion of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for people with chronic illnesses and disabling conditions, many of whom are elderly. Also, increasing employment of nursing aides combined with advancements in modern medical technology which while saving more lives, increases the need for the extended care provided by aides. As a result, nursing and personal care facilities are expected to grow very rapidly and to provide most of the new jobs for nursing aides. Employment also is expected to grow very rapidly in residential care facilities. Replacement needs will constitute the major source of openings for aides. CNAs who want plan for career growth can secure certification as a Medication Assistant, allowing them to administer routine medication. Another option is to build upon their knowledge base as a CNA by becoming an LPN or RN.