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What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?

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A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, may work in a hospital, a clinic, a nursing home or even in the patient's home. No matter the location, the duties of a CNA are about the same. They are there to provide safe and reliable care for those who need help or cannot care for themselves. These are some of the more common tasks a Certified Nursing Assistant may perform on a regular basis.

Measure Vital Signs

Taking a patient's vital signs is one of the most common tasks performed by a CNA. Vital signs include the patient's temperature, blood pressure, rate of respiration and pulse. The certified nursing assistant records all vital signs and reports any problems or irregularities to the doctor or nurse. If the patient needs help getting comfortable, the CNA will assist them in finding a more comfortable position. Also, if the patient has any questions or concerns while the CNA is taking the vitals, the CNA will relay those to the doctor or nurse.

Clean Patient Rooms

A Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home or hospital will also tidy up the patient's room. A custodial staff member usually does the deeper cleaning, but the CNA will do some light cleaning if it's needed. Making beds and putting away laundry are two responsibilities that often fall on the CNA. They make sure that the room is clean and sanitary between deeper cleanings.

Assist Patient with Mobility

Some patients need help walking. A CNA will be there for the patient to help them get up from their bed or chair and go wherever they need to go. If the patient needs to use the restroom, the CNA will help them into the bathroom and make sure they are safe before leaving them. The CNA will also help the patient with daily walks to promote good health and recovery. When the patient returns to the room, the CNA will help him back into the bed or chair and make sure he is comfortable before leaving the room.

Provide Patient Hygiene

CNAs also assist patients with daily hygiene. These tasks range from shaving a man's beard to helping the patient get dressed each morning. A CNA may also assist patients with bathing or showering, if they cannot do it themselves. Brushing teeth, soaking dentures and brushing hair are also daily activities that a CNA will help with.

Feeding Patients

Certified Nursing Assistants also help patients feed themselves. In a nursing home facility, the CNA will help the patient into the dining room, help them carry their food to the table and make sure they eat enough. Not all patients require the CNA to hand feed them, but sometimes that is necessary. Once the patient is finished with the meal, the CNA cleans her up and helps her to her next activity or back to her room.


Mary Rose has been writing professional procedure manuals for the past three years. Her most recent articles have appeared on Rose is currently working towards a journalism degree at Central Texas College.

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