What is a CNA nurse?

What is a CNA nurse?

Many people have this question: “What is a CNA nurse?!” They may not even realize that there are many different kinds of nurses, that do many different things!

To answer this question, a CNA is Certified Nursing Assistant or a Certified Nursing Aide.  The two terms mean the same thing!

In a nutshell, a CNA does things as part of a team of allied health professionals, such as doctors and registered nurses.

They perform duties that assist doctors in caring for patients, usually the elderly.

Their tasks usually help patients feel more comfortable and have a higher quality of life while they are in the hospital, in rehabilitation or during every day life.

A CNA is not a Registered Nurse (RN) nor are they a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  Those are positions that require more training, and require more responsibility than a CNA. Many times a CNA will pursue a career as an RN or LPN if they enjoy being a CNA.

What is a CNA nurse responsible for? What does a CNA do?  What are the duties of a CNA?

So what is a CNA nurse doing every day?  A CNA’s main responsibilities are tasks that improve 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.

There are two levels of CNAs: a CNA-I and CNA-II.  A CNA-I usually performs tasks that require only basic CNA training, but are still very important.  They usually do things like:

  • 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 has taken additional training to perform more technical tasks.  So, what is a CNA nurse responsible for when they are a “second level” CNA?

  • 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 nurse 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.

The duties of a CNA, everything the CNA does, has a profound impact on the happiness of a patient, and the well being of that entire patient’s family.

What is a CNA nurse personality? What kind of person becomes a CNA?

Many kinds of people are attracted to CNA positions.  Many people who decide to become CNAs want to care for others, they tend to be kind and get satisfaction from taking care of people.  A lot of CNAs describe themselves as outgoing, or and as a “people person.” Becoming a CNA means that you are dealing with many people every day, or dealing with a single person as their care taker and friend, so many CNAs say they love being around people.

Many CNAs also say that they are attracted to the job because it provides a means of generating income while on a flexible schedule. It’s perfect for people who lead busy lives, like night school students, those who have to take care of a love one or are just leading busy lives.

Since a CNA’s services are required 24/7, there is usually room to schedule your shifts at hours that suit your needs. Many CNAs enjoy the fact that it is easy to get hours so that they are getting paid.

Other CNAs choose to get certified because they don’t want all of the responsibilities of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Nursing Practitioner (LNP).   And some people decide to be a CNA so that they can start gaining experience in healthcare within weeks, so that they can eventually become an RN or LNP.

So what is a CNA? In short, they are people, just like you and me, who love taking care of others so much that they make it their full time job!

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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