CNA Job Description

Certified Nursing Assistants are in high demand all across the United States. In fact, based on the latest predictions from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the need for skilled staff will be drastically increased over the next few years, compared to many other professions. There is no doubt that CNAs will play a huge role in the growth of the health care industry in the coming years. To help you prepare for your role as a nursing assistant, we have outlined a basic CNA job description, listing the major duties and responsibilities of this profession.


Most of the planning is done by the patient’s doctors, nurses, and senior specialists. But CNAs can help through observation. Since they spend a lot of time with the patients, they can assess their overall health and well-being. They are also responsible for taking vital signs such as heart and blood pressure rate, as well as temperature. They also need to measure the patient’s height and weight, among others stats, sometimes on an ongoing basis.

Working closely with nurses, the CNAs may be requested to retrieve lab samples like urine and stool for a more thorough analysis. They can also act as liaisons for the nurses and the patients. They need to keep track of the patient’s output and input (e.g., food, urine, stool, etc.). CNAs also assist in infection control.

Assistance and Care

A bulk of the CNA’s responsibilities focuses on two things: assistance and care. The tasks are often routine, but they are essential to ensure a patient’s comfort and quality of life.

Some of the tasks fall into assisted daily living (ADL) category. These are functions that are vital to the patient’s general health; and when they no longer have the physical capability to do these functions independently, that’s when a CNA will step in. These include feeding, bathing, and drinking fluids. CNAs may also help the patient when it comes to elimination process, such as the urinating or performing an enema. They have to make sure that equipment required by the patient is always stocked and accessible. This includes things such as food trays, urinals, and bed pans.


CNAs are expected to communicate at all times with the patient as well as other health care professionals. That’s why they are usually asked to log their observation as soon as possible or to call the attention of the immediate nurse if something is amiss. They are often asked to submit a report right after every shift. Beyond that, nursing assistants should provide not only timely but accurate assessments of the patient’s condition. This has to be done with extra diligence as they are bound by confidentiality agreements.

Additionally, CNAs may also need to communicate directly with the patients, especially in informing them of any various procedures that have to be done. Communication can be as simple as providing instructions to the patient when assisting a patient in standing up or carefully sitting down in a wheelchair.

Emotional Support

CNA classes include more than just anatomy and health care training. They also deal with psychology, since nurse assistants are expected to communicate, empathize, understand, and even form bonds with their patients. Remember, there’s no successful partnership if there’s no sense of trust.

CNAs may be requested to perform massages or back rubs on the patient in order to prevent muscle atrophy. Some patients may also need them to be around during critical moments of their life such as surgery. They are also responsible for the patient’s hygiene, as well as the cleanliness of the surroundings. If the patient requires isolation, CNAs are expected to help strictly implement the rules.

Being a CNA can be tough work. But states reward these professionals with a comfortable life through a decent salary and benefits – not to mention the practical experience working in a healthcare environment is invaluable if an employee decides to advance themselves in their nursing career. Most of all, however, a Certified Nursing Assistant gets something rarely found in most other jobs – fulfillment from helping others.

Important Qualities of CNA’s

To be a CNA, you must possess some very important qualities because you will be working directly with people that need help. They will need someone that will care for them and respond to their needs.

Patience – This is a big part of the healthcare profession. It shows that you will put the needs of the patient first no matter what their demeanor may be. This may be difficult some days but they will without a doubt appreciate that you are willing to help them regardless of their frustration.

Empathy – Patients will want to express their feelings and emotions to you as a CNA and understanding and recognizing those emotions will allow you to better help them. They want someone to connect with and as a CNA, you will be looked to as someone they will want to reach out to.

Communication – By directly interacting with patients, communication skills are vital especially when relaying information to nurses and doctors. You may observe something regarding a patient and being able to communicate is essential.

Strong Work Ethic – As a CNA, you will be required to do a lot and the willingness to go the extra mile for the patient will be invaluable in the eyes of not just your patient but also in the eyes of your peers, you are working with.

A Typical Work Day for a CNA

Those who want to work in this field should possess patience, understanding, and attention to detail as well as a superior work ethic. Due to a shortage of workers who have attained their CNA certification, daily caseloads can at times seem overwhelming. In order to perform at peak efficiency while maintaining the best quality care, the CNA must be able to prioritize his/her daily activities and remain focused on the job at hand.

Although one’s duties will depend on the facility, all nursing assistants provide clients with ADL tasks such as bathing, dressing, feeding and basic hygiene needs. These basic routines involve bathing either in a shower or with bed bath, hair care, brushing teeth or cleaning dentures, applying makeup, shaving, etc.

In addition to these tasks, Certified Nursing Assistants can also be responsible for such things as:

  • Taking and recording vital signs
  • Preparing patients to be taken to the dining area of a facility
  • Change bedding if necessary
  • Documenting the behavior of patients
  • Reporting any changes in behavior to appropriate staff
  • Provide emotional support to both patients and their families

Listening to each patient as well as to their loved ones is also an important part of the job and family members may have special requests for someone who is in care such as keeping their fingernails cut or tying up their hair each day, etc.

In all of this, nursing assistants have a duty to ensure that the dignity and confidentiality of each of their patients is the highest priority. Accredited CNA programs will give students the skills necessary to perform the duties that are required of them.