How to Become a Nursing Assistant

If you’re looking to start a career in the healthcare industry, you have lots of options. Patient care! Tech! Administration! The entire field is growing, and with it grows the demand for qualified health care professionals. But no matter how many new jobs open up in the trendiest areas, there will always be a huge demand for the “evergreen” medical jobs: for doctors, nurses, and medical staff who work on the front lines, helping patients. If you think you’d like to be one of these front-line healthcare staffers, working as part of a patient care team, then becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) just might be the right path for you.

What Does a Nursing Assistant Do?

CNAs work directly with patients under the direction of physicians and nurses, providing basic care. CNAs work virtually anywhere there are healthcare facilities, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and doctors’ offices. CNAs may work with a variety of patients during a shift, or they may have a more one-on-one relationship with a smaller group of patients. CNAs are often a liaison for the patient, making sure that they have everything they need or working with a team of other medical professionals to ensure that a patient is receiving a particular level of care.

A CNA’s tasks may include:

  • Assisting patients with everyday tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing
  • Taking vital signs
  • Helping to prepare patients for surgery
  • Checking and emptying catheters
  • Making beds and cleaning patient rooms
  • Setting up medical equipment
  • Administering prescribed medication
  • Assisting physicians and nurses with medical procedures
  • Observe and record patient status and changes

Nursing assistants are responsible for meeting the most basic needs of patients, and for providing a high level of personal care.

What Skills Do Nursing Assistants Have?

Because nursing assistants are one of the primary caregivers for their patients, they need to have very strong skills and bedside manner.

Patient Care Skills

In addition to the medical know-how necessary to do the job, nursing assistants also need to have strong customer care and service skills. The nursing assistant will be working with a range of patients, and potentially interacting with families as well, so it’s important to have a calm, caring, and understanding professional game face.

Attention to Detail

If things are missed, it can have serious consequences for a patient. Nursing assistants needs to have an eagle eye for detail, and a passion for making sure everything is done correctly and on time, whether it’s administering medication or feeding a patient her meals.

Communication Skills

Nursing assistants need to be able to communicate with a number of different people: patients, other staff members, and patient families. Being able to understand what’s going on, and communicate to others as necessary, is essential.

Teamwork Skills

Nursing assistants are key members of a patient care team. That means being a lone wolf just won’t work in this job. It also means a nursing assistant has to be able to work well (and take orders when necessary) from other members of the healthcare team, all in the interest of the patient.

Organizational Skills

Because nursing assistants often spend the most time directly with patients, keeping everything moving along on schedule is key. Many nursing assistants are juggling a number of patients at a time, so keeping patients and information organized is key so that there are no mistakes disruptions to care.

What Education Do Nursing Assistants Need?

At a minimum, nursing assistants typically need a high school diploma (or equivalent). Beyond that, they will need to complete a Nursing Assistant course from an accredited school, which typically lasts from 4 to 16 weeks.

Once you have your Nursing Assistant program diploma, you’ll need to be certified by your own state. Requirements vary by state, so be sure to see what’s required in your state if you’re interested in pursuing this path. Many states also require you to pass a certification exam before you can become a practicing CNA.

How Much Do Nursing Assistants Get Paid?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants make a median salary of $26,590 per year, or $12.78 per hour, depending on location and experience. Many nursing assistants also go on to other, more advanced nursing or patient care roles as they gain more experience.

What’s the Outlook for Nursing Assistants?

This is definitely a promising field! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for nursing assistants will increase by 17% by 2024. That is much faster than average, compared to all other careers. Caring, compassionate professionals who can provide high-quality patient care will always be in high demand.

If you’re considering going into the healthcare field, and are ready for the challenges of providing hands-on care, then this could be the right choice for your career. Good luck!

The post How to Become a Nursing Assistant appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

6 Steps to Surviving a Job as a Night Shift Nurse

Being a night shift nurse can be extremely rewarding and heroic. It can also be incredibly grueling. Before you sign up to this gig, here are a few survival tips. And for those of you with no interest in such work, read on to see some of the challenges that face these tireless heroes who do such vital, life-saving work.

1. Understand your inner clock.

Your circadian clock is your internal inclination to follow a normal 24-hour cycle. It also helps to regulate many of your body processes: hormones, temperature, heart rate, etc. The more you understand about these rhythms (and how your job will mess with them), the better off you’ll be. Realize that you will naturally crave sleep between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., and do what it takes to train your body to, well, do the opposite of what it naturally wants to do.

It may not be at the ideal time every day, and you’ll likely have to schedule your sleep instead of just falling into a normal routine like everybody else you know, but it’s even more important for you. Get blackout curtains for your room. Use eye masks or ear plugs or white noise machines to optimize your sleep environment. Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Make sure you get long periods of uninterrupted sleep and that your family respects these periods.

2. Keeping yourself healthy is key.

The healthier you are, the better prepared your body will be to survive night shifts. Keep an eye out for conditions you’re at a higher risk for than your daytime components, like insomnia, daytime drowsiness, high blood pressure, diabetes, menstrual irregularities, common colds, and weight gain. Make sure to exercise and be active—it will help you stay alert. And make sure to eat right: reach for snacks high in protein and complex sugars, rather than candy and chips. Drink plenty of water. Having a healthy home life can help reinforce all the good habits you’ll need to cultivate to stay afloat at work.

3. Bond with your coworkers.

Your coworkers are like a family—even more so when you’re all working in the trenches of the night shift. It’s a much different, and often more intimate environment. Take advantage of this to really work as a team, communicating effectively, and being able to rely on each other when the going gets tough.

4. Don’t overdo the caffeine.

Caffeine can be your friend—t can boost your alertness just when you need it. Remember to give yourself 25 minutes or so for it to kick in. But be judicious—too much caffeine can make you jittery or affect your out-of-work sleep quality. Find a balance that works for you and doesn’t compromise your sleep.

5. Schedule your home life.

It’s important that you keep your home life going strong, so it’s a place of comfort and stability. This might mean having to schedule things that normal families take for granted. But it’s worth it. Make sure you’re staying in constant touch—through texts, emails, phone calls, etc. Leave post-it notes or start a bulletin board to stay connected. And make sure to have a few date nights on the books if you have a special someone.

6. Know the costs.

Being a night nurse is really tough. The hospital may be a bit quieter, but patients are rarely able to sleep and often are needier or more anxious at night. Your patients might even get a bit angry or disgruntled as the night progresses. You’ll also get a lot of the leftover grunt work no one in the day shift wanted to do. And if you get hungry? Forget about it. The cafeteria will long have closed.

That said, if you remember to stock up on snacks and food to fuel your shift, and you can learn to adjust your inner clock (and withhold your rage at the FedEx guy or the ice cream truck), you’ll also have the benefit of an extremely important and gratifying job—and one that offers a bit more flexibility than other, more regularly scheduled gigs.

The post 6 Steps to Surviving a Job as a Night Shift Nurse appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

8 Powerful Reasons Why Nursing Isn’t for Everyone


Nurses are so often taken for granted as “just” the people assisting the real doctors in their work. But nursing is actually an incredibly difficult and taxing job, one filled with quiet heroes. Here are just 8 of the many reasons why nursing attracts the toughest and most dedicated people to the profession.

1. It’s a matter of life and death.

As a nurse, you literally (and routinely) hold people’s lives in your hands. How many other jobs have that same awesome responsibility?

2. You need endless knowledge.

There are so very many medical terms you must be familiar with to be a nurse. And it’s not just the terminology. You also have to hold an enormous amount of information in your head, or risk dangerous consequences: doctors’ orders, patients vitals and other data, etc. You also have to keep up with trends, do continuing education, and push yourself to keep learning so you don’t fall behind the cutting edge.

3. You are surrounded by people in their lowest moments.

It’s unbelievably difficult to watch another human being suffer—let alone pass away. You may think nurses get used to both these things; they don’t. They become very adept at doing their job in the face of suffering and loss, but that doesn’t mean a nurse isn’t affected.

4. You come last.

As a nurse, you have to put almost everyone’s needs before your own: doctors, patients, even putting your job ahead of your family time when your schedule requires. You have to smile, be endlessly patient, be empathetic, but take care not to get too attached. You might even have to eat breakfast while commuting—because it might just be the only meal you get all day.

5. You don’t get paid enough.

Even though nursing is a field in which it’s always possible to take on extra shifts or opportunities, you probably are not getting compensated at a truly fair rate for all you do. You don’t get holidays. You miss out on lots of your family and social life opportunities, particularly when things run late or you’re on call. A lot of hospitals are also now cutting back on hiring and instead having their nurses work extra overtime. It can be pretty thankless!

6. You rarely get the respect you deserve.

As a nurse, particularly since it’s a predominantly female profession, you get less respect than you deserve. Nursing is constantly devalued compared to more predominantly male professions. You do a huge share of the work in the care situation, and get almost none of the credit. And you have to be caring and compassionate in the face of occasional maltreatment, disrespect, and outright rudeness.

7. It’s very strenuous.

The taxing hours worked, the being on your feet constantly, all these things add up to being sore and tired almost all of the time. Nurses also do a huge amount of heavy lifting and often develop back problems.

8. Everyone’s a patient.

As a nurse, you’re guaranteed to be bombarded with texts and photos of all your friends’ and family’s ailments asking you for free medical advice. It will be difficult to figure out where to draw the line in your off hours.

Don’t be discouraged, though—nursing is a profession that needs heroes, and if you’re drawn to it, you can change lives. The good outweighs the bad, if you’re willing to muddle through it to get to the rewarding parts!


The post 8 Powerful Reasons Why Nursing Isn’t for Everyone appeared first on TheJobNetwork.