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On the Job

Certified nursing assistants have different titles such as: “C.N.A.” “nurse aide,” “nursing assistant,” and even “unlicensed assistant personnel.”

A certified nursing assistant or c.n.a. does a wide number of tasks relating to patient care. One aspect of a c.n.a.s job is to monitoring a patient’s vital sighs. Vital signs include Blood pressure, pulse, temperature and respiration. Most of a certified nursing assistant’s duties revolve around giving personal care to the patient. These duties include; bathing, feeding, toiling, dressing, making beds, mouth care and more.

Certified nursing assistants are not permitted to give medications unless they receive special training by a state agency. All medications will be administered by a registered nurse.

Certified nursing assistants or c.n.a.s are the eyes and ears of the health care team. They spend the most time giving personal care to patients. It is very important for every certified nursing assistant to assess the patients for any changes in the patient’s condition. If a change in a patient’s condition is found it should be written down in the patient’s chart and, if necessary, reported to the nurse on duty.


Certified nursing assistants are licensed professionals and should conduct themselves as such in the workplace. Acting professional means taking into account how your dress, the words you use and the things you talk about. Being professional also means being at work on time, completing all the tasks assigned to you and reporting accurate information to the nurse in charge.

A certified nursing assistant comes in contact with may other health care providers while at work. Yours ability to communicate and work closely with others is a very  important part of your job. Treating everyone with respect and consideration is very important. Having a positive attitude, being polite and cheerful even when you are not in a good mood is part of being a professional.

Working with patients can be rewarding and challenging. Certified nursing assistants need special qualities to be able to give good care to patients. Compassion, empathy, sympathy, tact, respect, and tolerance are just some of the important qualities a c.n.a. should have.


There are several important grooming habits that a certified nursing assistant should pay close attention to. Keep your fingernails short and clean. Long nails can tear a patient’s skin and bacteria can hide under them. If you have long hair you should tie it back while at work. Long hair can get in the way of patient care by falling in your face. Don’t wear over sized jewelry. Large jewelry can also collect bacteria, scratch patients and some patients may pull on your jewelry and injure you.


Certified nursing assistants (c.n.a.) will come in contact and work with may other professionals. Besides a patient’s doctor and the nurses on staff you could be working with physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist, nutritionist, medical social workers, and activities directors. Each of these professionals have a specific goal that is set for their patient. It is very important for the certified nursing assistant to follow any instructions given to them by any one of these care providers.

A patient’s family can be an important part of the health care team. Do not disregard a families concerns about how care is given to their loved one. Having someone you love in a hospital or assistant living facility can be stressful for some families. If a family member becomes upset or confrontational about how care is given to their loved one take them to the nurse on duty for help. Don’t try to solve the problem yourself.

As a certified nursing assistant your job is to give the best care possible to each patient in your charge. There will be times of great joy and sorrow. Your care and support will make all the difference in the lives of your patients and nothing can take the place of a caring CNA.
CNA State Agencies