The Job of a Nurse Aide

A nurse aide works in the same role as a nurse assistant but the title is more common for someone who works in a long term care facility. A nurse aide provides nursing related services which are restricted in scope because the job doesn’t require that the practitioner be a licensed health practitioner. But this doesn’t in any way diminish the importance of the job to the health giving team. Although not licensed, you will need training and also be required to pass a clinical skills test and a knowledge test to gain the nurse aide certificate.

Nurse Aide Philosophy

The philosophy of long term care is the delivery of a continuum comprehensive service to ensure the needs of the patient are met. Fundamental to this are the basic needs and activities of daily living (ADLs). In most long term healthcare facilities the onus of catering to these needs falls to the nurse aide.

Education and Expected Salary

There are no minimum educational requirements to study on a nurse’s aide program and it is a non-credit certificate course. The nature of the work you will undertake means that you will have to have good level of general health and be fairly physically fit with good mobility. Most programs typically last 10-14 days and do not require a high school diploma or general education certificate. (Some employers may require this even if you have your nurse aide certification).

Generally, a typical nurse aide course will require that you:

  • Have an English and reading ability at the 8th grade level minimum
  • Prove fitness for work by having documentary evidence of a physical exam
  • Have undertaken a two step tuberculin test
  • Have a record of a home state criminal record check that has been carried out in the last 12 months
  • Can lift 40 lbs to waist level

As well as studying fundamental nursing the course will cover:

  • Basic nutrition
  • Infection control
  • Basic anatomy
  • Medical data collection
  • Elderly care
  • Emergency care

Successful completion of the course will give you certification as a nurse aide for a period of two years. After that time, you’ll have to apply for recertification which is dependent on you having worked for at least eight hours as a nurse aide in the preceding two years.

The salary for nurse aides ranges between $18,500 and $26,500.

Scope of Nurse Aide Jobs

There is excellent scope for career advancement once you have become a certified nurse aide. If you have a high school diploma or GED as well as your CNA you can enroll in a senior health care workplace assistant program, a practical nurse program or even the registered nurse program (the latter may have more restrictive entry conditions). These certifications and your work experience may give you up to sex credits that you can put towards the senior health care diploma program.

Roles of a Nurse Aide

Working under the supervision of licensed healthcare practitioners, the jobs of a nurse aide primarily focus on making the residents of a long term healthcare facility comfortable, safe and well.

Day to day duties will include:

  • Helping residents bathe and dress
  • General personal hygiene such as brushing teeth, nail cutting and hair brushing
  • Changing bed linens
  • Helping at meal times
  • Taking and recording vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • General light housekeeping duties

To some extent the nature of your duties will depend on the type of health care facility or nursing home you work in. Most nurse aides work with elderly patients but others are employed in homes for vulnerable sectors of society such as homes for the mentally ill or handicapped.

The most rewarding aspect of being a nurse aide is your interaction with the residents. This would not be a job for you if you don’t like working with people. As a nurse aide your paramount concern is the well being of your patient, and this doesn’t just mean attending to their physical needs. You need to have good communication skills and a person who is good at listening.


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