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Career as a Nursing Assistant

1. Who is a Nursing Assistant?

A nursing assistant or a nursing aide is one of the allied health care professionals who assists doctors , aids patient in basic care and daily activities which the patients are unable to do. Each health care facility has a demand for the nursing assistant. Usually these nursing assistants are supervised by a Registered or Certified Nurse. They are also known as Certified Medication Aide or Certified Nursing Assistant. The council concerned is the Nursing Council of India.

2. What does a Nursing Assistant do?

A Nursing Assistant provides the basic aide to patient under the supervision of a Certified Nurse or Nursing staff. The core functions on the job include:

· Help patients in bathing and dressing up

· Assist patients in their meals by serving and helping them.

· Take note of vital signs such as temperature, bp

· Help bedridden patients in their physical movements

· Collect information about conditions and treatment plans from caregivers, nurses and doctors

· Provide and empty bedpans

· Lift patients into beds, wheelchairs, exam tables, etc. for their transportation or movement.

· Answer patient calls

· Examine patients for bruises, blood in urine or other injuries/wounds

· Clean and sanitize patient areas

· Change bed sheets and restock rooms with necessary supplies

· Setting up equipment at a nurse or doctor’s request for surgeries.

· Sometimes they also work with medical technology such as billing software, health information software and medical record charting software.

The role of nursing assistant includes taking up many roles at once. The work of a CNA includes Patient care such as bathing, feeding , dressing, grooming or moving patients. They might also help in transporting patients. Nursing Assistant’s other roles would include answering call signals, bells or intercom systems in case of bedridden patients. Patients who undergo physiotherapy or surgeries also need physical support in walking, using toilets or standing which are provided by the Nursing Assistants.

3. Types of Nursing assistants

· Nursing Assistants : Their role is to provide the basic aide to patients admitted into the hospital, help in other surgical preparation and to take vitals and charting them. Other works include assisting patients in their transport. They also help patients who have physical disability and thus need support for their movements.

· Care assistants : These assistants are often indulged in a range of environments such as residential homes, day centers or schools. They work to assess the level of care a client needs and work with other health and social care professionals to draw up a care plan for client. The work tasks for them includes washing, shopping or supporting clients in recreational activities. They are often employed for clients such as children, elderly or clients with physical and learning disabilities.

4. Working Conditions

The workplace for a nursing assistant can include a range of areas depending upon the job type they are employed into. The working place includes hospitals, residential areas, schools, children day care or therapy homes. The work hours may include 9-12 hours on an average in hospitals.However, for care assistants the work hours vary from 12-16 hours. Assistants in day centers are subjected to 6-8 hours of work. Assistants in hospitals and clinics are also employed in night duty often.

5. Knowledge areas required

The knowledge areas required for a nursing assistant includes:

a. Biology- Basic biology up to 10th standard

b. Basic health care information- Awareness of vitals, and health related information and hygiene standards.

c. Languages- Basic English and other native language is a must as they are often involved with patients at a personal interaction.

d. Customer Service- Assistants must have a primary knowledge of customer service and satisfaction.

For a certified nursing assistant, one needs to undergo a state approved CNA certification training course. Certified Nursing Care Assistant is a paramedical course. It is a certificate degree course. This course helps in acquiring key nursing aide skills and would help in entry level nursing assistant jobs. Other knowledge areas involved are basic customer service, fluent writing and speaking in English or the native language of the area as they need to deal with patients and communicate the same to the health care professionals.

6. Skills required

The role of a nursing assistant is to serve as a conduit between health care professionals and the patients or client, there is a need to facilitate good communication. The skills required are:

a. Communication Skills-

· Friendly approach and the ability to put clients at ease, whatever their physical or social needs

· A high level of patience as shifts can be long and often stressful

· The ability to deal with aggressive or anxious clients

· A responsible and flexible attitude to clients and the job

· The ability to stay calm under pressure

b. Observation skills-

· The ability to be tactful and sensitive at all times.

· Attentive and notice every little change so that they can inform other professionals.

c. Customer and Personal Services-

· Respect for the client and their families

· A good knowledge of basic health care and hygiene standards

· A commitment to the job, the client and their families

d. Good stamina

· Manual dexterity and a certain level of physical strength

e. Critical thinking and decision-making ability

· The ability to think quickly and solve problems as they arrive

7. Technology skills

Nursing assistants sometimes have to work with many emerging medical technologies. So, one needs to have prior knowledge and experience to work on equipment. These include medical charting technology, billing technology or health information software. So, skills required in the job are:

· Basic computer usage of mail software such as Microsoft Outlook

· Spreadsheet Software such as MS Excel, or

· Certified training certificate for the usage of medical technological Equipment.

8. Personality

The role of a nursing assistant takes on challenging tasks in a range of environments .Thus the need for a nursing assistant with an adaptive personality is often looked by a recruiter. The nursing assistant must have good social and verbal skills so that it can facilitate communication and provide basic encouragement to the clients who often have low motivation to even do their daily routines. A nursing assistant needs to show utmost patience and attention to detailsfor the clients. The work of a nursing assistant demands great dedication, cooperation, empathy, concern and dependability. The work values that should be addressed by the nursing assistant is high empathy, integrity,hard work, stress tolerance and commitment.

Hence the personality traits suitable for this service are:

a. Social Person

b. Adaptive

c. Resilient

d. Compassion

e. Empathic

f. Detail oriented

g. Dutiful and responsible

h. Passionate towards job

i. Patience and calm

j. Emotionally strong

k. Decision Maker

l. Mediator

9. Education

The education qualification required for this job entails:

a. 10th/ intermediate pass

b. 12th – if done the marks of biology must be higher than 40%

c. Certificate Training by a recognized university- This training can vary according to the institute enrolled can range over 6 months to 2 years in case of diploma training.

10. Job Outlook

There exists a diverse job opportunity for nursing care assistants. Government and private sector job opportunities are available for them. Nursing care assistants/aides are usually hired by hospitals (Government and private), clinics, nursing homes, CHCs (Community Health Centers) and NGOs. Under such work setups, they function under the supervision and guidance of registered nurses and Doctors. The average salary ranges between 8000 to 15000 a month depending upon the job location, employer and experience.

One can also serve in Defence Forces as nursing assistant. The salary and the incentives provide a good job opportunity. The salary in army can be as high as 39000 per month.

The salary increases as the experience increases.

11. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is a nursing assistant same as a nurse?

The nursing assistant is allied health professional who works under the supervision of a nurse. They serve as conduit between patient and the health care professionals involved. The nursing assistant deals with the basic aides for the patient.

2. How can I become a nursing assistant?

The nursing assistant is one of the paramedical posts. There is no bachelor or diploma degree required for the job. However, one needs to undergo a certificate degree program after 10th or 12th.

3. Are there any male nursing assistants?

Yes. Nursing assistants can be male as well. In fact, 67% of the nursing assistants are males. Males are easily employed in many government hospitals and clinics. Indian Army also conducts rallies for employing nursing assistants throughout the year.

4. Where do I get the certificate for nursing Assistant?

Many educational institutes provide paramedical courses to which one can register easily. The course can vary in duration between 4 weeks to 12 weeks depending upon the institute providing. The course duration is broken into contact hours and clinic practice.

5. How can I earn more being a nursing assistant?

The salary of nursing assistant depends upon the hours and employer and the working condition. Gaining few years of experience such as 2-4 years can help in increasing the salary.

6. What jobs further can one look into as a Nursing assistant?

A nursing assistant can further take diploma courses of vocational degree or licensed nursing assistant practitioner. One can further look into bridging their nursing assistant courses to nursing courses.

7. What colleges can one apply for the course?

Some of the good institutions are as listed:

Eligibility- 10th pass

Duration – 6 months

b. Rajiv Gandhi Paramedical Institute, New Delhi

Eligibility- 10th pass

Duration- 1 year

c. MIOT International, Chennai

Diploma Course

Duration- 2 Years

d. Dayanand Medical college , Ludhiana

Certificate Course

Duration – 6 months

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