What does a CNA do?

what-does-a-cna-doA CNA, or a Certified Nursing Assistant/Certified Nursing Aide is part of a team of healthcare professionals that takes care of patients.  These teams of doctors, nurses and technicians take care of patients in hospitals, nursing homes or in their own home.  But what does a CNA do, exactly?

CNAs perform duties that assist doctors in caring for patients, usually the elderly.  Their jobs help patients feel more comfortable, improve their quality of life, and generally perform tasks that make the patient’s life a little better while they need care.

What does a CNA do?  What are the duties of a CNA?

So does a CNA do every day?  A CNA’s jobs mostly improves the quality of daily life for their patients.  Most times, patients under the care of a CNA are elderly, but not all of the time. Since these people can no longer perform some of life’s most basic functions, a CNA has to help out.

Now, there are two levels of CNAs.  There is a CNA-I, that has only basic training and a CNA-II, that is slightly more trained.  A CNA-I usually performs tasks that require only basic CNA training, but are still very important.  So what does a CNA do at the CNA-I level?

  • Maintain a sanitary patient area – changing sheets, sanitizing bed pans, etc.
  • Bathing patients safely and properly – making sure patients are kept clean, for their health and comfort
  • Keeping records and documenting care – writing their activities in a log, including new symptoms or reactions.
  • Moving and aiding patients to and from bed – many patients have a hard time walking, so they need some help.
  • Taking and recording of vital signs – making sure the patient is not having reactions or developing new problems
  • Helping feed and hydrate patients – many patients who need care cannot feed themselves, so a CNA helps them
  • Identifying and preventing bed sores – a patient that stays in bed all day is may develop painful sores. CNAs move patients to prevent sores from developing.
  • Identifying symptoms and notifying doctors – if new symptoms develop with the patient, the CNA may be the first to notice and inform doctors
  • Understanding patient reactions – detecting negative reactions to treatment or the patient’s care, and can notify doctors or fix the problem themselves, if they can.
  • Maintaining patient comfort – keeping the room comfortable for the patient while they are under care of a CNA
  • Keeping patients active and mobile – moving the patient’s limbs through a full range of motion to keep them mobile

A CNA-II has to do everything that a CNA-I does, but also performs more technical tasks.  So, what does a CNA do when they are a CNA-II?

  • Using advanced equipment – setting up oxygen therapy, monitoring oxygen flow-rate, etc.
  • Perform oral and nasal suctioning – removing oral secretions when the patient is unable to do it on their own
  • Handling fecal impactions – removing fecal impactions when a patient can no longer use the toilet themselves
  • Providing tracheostomy care – providing a second airway when patients lose the ability to breathe
  • Performing sterile dressing changes – changing soiled dressings for new, sterile ones
  • Handling I.V. treatments – Assembling and flushing tubing, monitoring flow-rate, discontinuing I.V. lines, etc.
  • Providing ostomy care and irrigation – removing a patient’s wastes when they have undergone an ostomy
  • Administering tube feedings – after placement verification by licensed nurse, a CNA is responsible for performing the feedings.
  • Catheterizations – performing catheterizations and irrigating catheter tubing

These duties of a CNA drastically improve the quality of life of any patient. A good CNA, someone who knows what a CNA can do for the patient, will make all the difference in the world.

Imagine your grandmother, your mother or some other loved one is in the hospital and under care and think about how much these duties and activities would help them.  Think about how it would help you and the rest of your family, to know that your loved one is receiving great care  in their time of need.

What does a CNA do to make their situation better?  What does a CNA do to improve their life while they are poorly?  What does a CNA do as they approach their end of their life, to make them comfortable?  All of their duties, with a smile and a caring heart.

So what does a CNA do?  They have a profound impact on the happiness of a patient, and the well being of that entire patient’s family.  They make people’s lives better!

So if you want to become a CNA, head over to our state-by-state directory, that will outline all of the requirements to become a CNA in your state, including information about CNA classes online.

photo credit: nurses

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