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CNA Certified Nursing Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A CNA in uniform inspects a patient resting in bed. Monitors with vitals adorn the background. Text reads:

Last updated: December 10, 2022

A Certified Nursing Assistant, or Certified Nursing Aide, is responsible for supporting medical staff in administering care to patients with various injuries, illnesses or disabilities. Their duties include helping patients bathe and maintain proper hygiene, feeding patients or ensuring they take their medication and assessing their patients’ vital signs to notify staff of any changes.

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CNA Certified Nursing Assistant duties and responsibilities

Certified Nursing Assistants are responsible for many patient care tasks to ensure that each patient receives the comprehensive and personalized care they need. They often have the following responsibilities:

  • Grooming and bathing patients with low mobility
  • Preparing each patient room with necessary items like blankets, pillows, medical equipment and bathroom needs
  • Helping patients eat and take medications
  • Making sure they have regular meals and proper medication dosages
  • Monitoring vitals and patient behavior and reporting them to the nursing and medical staff
  • Assisting patients with mobility needs, transferring them from wheelchair to bed
  • Turning or adjusting patients in bed to prevent bedsores or other discomfort
  • Exercising patients by helping them walk
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CNA Certified Nursing Assistant Job Description Examples

What does a CNA Certified Nursing Assistant do?

Certified Nursing Assistants typically work for hospitals, assisted living facilities, medical clinics and home aide services to assist patients in daily tasks. They work closely with other medical professionals like Doctors and Registered Nurses to monitor their patients’ conditions and help them feel as comfortable as possible. 

Their job is to help clean their patients’ living quarters by making beds and cleaning surfaces. They also help their patients by changing bandages and helping them sit up or move around. They may be responsible for acting as companions to patients and accompanying them on walks or other activities they enjoy.

CNA Certified Nursing Assistant skills and qualifications

Certified Nursing Assistants use many soft skills and patient care best practices to provide a safe, comfortable and healing environment for all patients. Common required skills and qualifications include:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including customer service, patience, empathy and compassion
  • Effective communication skills, including active listening, writing, speaking and reading comprehension
  • Good collaboration and teamwork skills
  • Fast and adaptive problem-solving abilities
  • Keen attention to detail
  • In-depth understanding of patient care policies and regulations
  • Familiarity with symptoms and signs of improvement for a number of medical conditions
  • Comfortable working with specific populations of patients, including elderly patients and those with special needs
  • Physical strength and stamina

CNA Certified Nursing Assistant salary expectations

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CNA Certified Nursing Assistant education and training requirements

Certified Nursing Assistants must enroll and pass a state-approved education and training program before working. A minimum of a high school diploma or GED is often a requirement to enter this program. Students train during the program, often working in a hospital or nursing home setting to learn necessary role-specific skills, practice patient care techniques and develop medical knowledge as necessary. After the program, students must successfully pass their state exam for certification. Obtaining the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification places candidates on a state registry, which legally allows them to work for local organizations as a CNA.

CNA Certified Nursing Assistant experience requirements

Entry-level CNAs likely have gained directly relevant experience from their certification program. Others may have previous experience working in customer service roles or in a different role within a medical or patient care setting. Experienced CNAs may have these experiences in addition to years of serving as a CNA. For roles that work with patients with certain needs or have specific conditions, previous experience caring for these types of patients may be beneficial.

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Frequently asked questions about Certified Nursing Assistants


What is the difference between a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Registered Nurse?

Both Certified Nursing Assistants and Registered Nurses work to make sure their patients remain healthy and comfortable, but they differ in their education requirements, seniority and job responsibilities. For example, Certified Nursing Assistants need to have a high school diploma or GED in addition to completing a specialized CNA training course over the duration of a month. After the completion of their course, they need to take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam.

In contrast, Registered Nurses need to obtain either a nursing degree at the associate or bachelor’s degree level, which takes two to four years to complete. After completing their degree, they need to take the national licensing examination to become a Registered Nurse in their state. Because of these differences in education, Registered Nurses have a more senior role when compared to Certified Nursing Assistants. They can insert IVs, administer vaccinations and other perform other medical tasks.


What are the daily duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant?

On a typical day, Certified Nursing Assistants receive their tasks for the day from a senior medical professional. They bring patients food, assist them in bathing or performing grooming tasks and help maximize their comfort by retrieving more pillows or blankets for them. Throughout their shift, they remain close by to assist Nurses and Doctors in moving patients, administering medication or changing bandages. They help patients move to wheelchairs and or use walkers to maneuver about the facility. Certified Nursing Assistants also work to clean vacant rooms and replace bedding after patients get discharged.


What qualities make a good Certified Nursing Assistant?

A good Certified Nursing Assistant displays care and compassion for their patients on a daily basis. They have a personable nature that makes their patients feel comfortable and well-cared for. Certified Nursing Assistants should be physically fit to help patients stand, walk, sit up or maneuver from their bed to other surfaces. A good Certified Nursing Assistant should also have a desire to learn to maintain their first aid and CPR knowledge.


Who does a Certified Nursing Assistant report to?

Certified Nursing Assistants typically report to a Registered Nurse for instructions about which medications to administer and other tasks. In the absence of a Registered Nurse, Certified Nursing Assistants may report to a Licensed Practical Nurse. These nursing professionals don’t have the same qualifications to perform Registered Nurse duties, but they do have more seniority over Certified Nursing Assistants.

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