Nursing assistants, sometimes called nurse aides, orderlies, and geriatric
aides, assist in the care of patients. They work under the direction and
supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
and other medical staff. Nursing assistants have a great deal of contact
with patients and provide personal care such as bathing, feeding, and
dressing. They also perform support functions such as transporting
patients, taking vital signs, making beds, helping patients become
ambulatory, and answering patient calls. They might also be called upon to
set up equipment such as X-ray machines and overhead irrigation bottles.
Nursing assistants are often responsible for observing and reporting how
patients respond to the care that is being given. Nursing assistants
employed in nursing homes are called geriatric aides. These nurses have
far more contact with residents than any of the other staff, and are
therefore expected to develop ongoing relationships with the patients and
treat them in a positive, caring way. To be a successful nursing
assistant, an individual must be a team player who is able to take orders
well. They must also be emotionally stable and have a great deal of
Nursing assistants work in a variety of different health care settings.
These include hospitals, physician's offices, home health agencies,
nursing homes, private homes, and mental health institutions. They are on
their feet most of the time and may be required to lift and move patients,
so physical fitness is a plus.
High School Preparation:
Students interested in becoming a nurse assistant should take courses in
dental/medical assisting, algebra, computer skills, English, history,
biology, nurse aide training, and health occupations/medical professions
Most employers require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Training
is offered in a variety of settings, which may include high schools,
vocational schools, community colleges, geriatric facilities, and
employers. These courses usually last six to eight weeks at which time
students can take an exam given by the Mississippi Department of Health to
become a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA).
Students interested in becoming a nursing assistant should contact schools
for information on admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study
Job prospects for nursing assistants looks very good for the near future.
There is an expected 21%-35% growth in the job market over the next
decade. This exceptional growth is attributed to the rapidly growing older
population that will demand more emphasis on rehabilitation and long term
care. As a result, a major employer in this sector will be nursing homes
and long term care facilities for people with chronic illnesses and
disabling conditions. Replacing current employees will be the major source
of openings for nursing assistants.
Average Annual Salary
American Hospital Association
840 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 422-3000
Mississippi Hospital Association
Division of Nursing
PO Box 16444
Jackson, MS 39216-6444
Phone: (601) 982-3251
Nursing Assistant brochure
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