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Job Description of a STNA

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STNAs, or state-tested nursing assistants, care for elderly or infirm patients in hospitals, nursing homes, or patients’ own homes. Sometimes referred to as certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, they must pass a state-issued exam. STNAs assist nurses in a variety of tasks and serve as primary caregivers for some patients. The job offers many challenges and many rewards.

Job Duties

State-tested nursing assistants help patients with personal care and grooming, including bathing, dressing, toileting, hair care and skin care. They assist patients with walking, transferring in and out of wheelchairs and changing position in bed. They feed patients that cannot feed themselves. They monitor patients’ vital signs. STNAs that work in patients’ homes may also prepare meals and do light housekeeping tasks. In addition to providing physical care, nursing assistants develop relationships with patients and provide companionship and emotional support. They document the care they provide in patients’ medical charts.

Work Environment

STNAs work in hospitals and nursing homes. They often work in fast-paced environments and spend most of their time on their feet. They must be able to lift heavy patients. Some STNAs work for home health care agencies and care for patients in their own homes instead of health care facilities. Those working in patients’ homes must work well independently because often no other professional caregivers are available to provide assistance.

Education and Training

State-tested nursing assistants complete a course of education that includes classroom study and clinical work experience. Subjects studied include health, nutrition, the normal aging process, body mechanics, documentation in medical charts, infection control and patient rights. Students also learn practical skills, such as how to monitor vital signs, transfer and position patients and bathe patients. Educational programs include a clinical component in which students care for patients in a nursing home or other health care facility under the supervision of instructors.


Federal law requires nursing assistants who work in nursing homes to become certified or registered with the state in which they wish to work. To become certified, nursing assistants must complete at least 75 hours of education and pass an exam offered by the state. Some states may have additional requirements. Federal law does not require home health aides to become certified or registered with the state, but many home health agencies prefer to hire only state-tested nursing assistants.


According to, in November 2009, state-tested nursing assistants earned a median salary of $24,790. Salaries vary depending on how many years of experience an STNA has, the type of facility she works in and her geographical location.

Nursing Assistants Employment and Labor Information 2023

Nursing Assistants Employment Brief:

Provide or assist with basic care or support under the direction of onsite licensed nursing staff. Perform duties such as monitoring of health status, feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, or ambulation of patients in a health or nursing facility. May include medication administration and other health-related tasks. Includes nursing care attendants, nursing aides, and nursing attendants.

Nursing Assistants Job Description

Here is a Job Description an employer might post for potential Nursing Assistants.

Nursing Assistants Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Transport specimens, laboratory items, or pharmacy items, ensuring proper documentation and delivery to authorized personnel.
  • Prepare or serve food trays.
  • Remind patients to take medications or nutritional supplements.
  • Position or hold patients in position for surgical preparation.
  • Administer medications or treatments, such as catheterizations, suppositories, irrigations, enemas, massages, or douches, as directed by a physician or nurse.
  • Undress, wash, and dress patients who are unable to do so for themselves.
  • Supply, collect, or empty bedpans.
  • Apply clean dressings, slings, stockings, or support bandages, under direction of nurse or physician.
  • Review patients' dietary restrictions, food allergies, and preferences to ensure patient receives appropriate diet.
  • Communicate with patients to ascertain feelings or need for assistance or social and emotional support.

Typical Daily Tasks of Nursing Assistants:

  • Assisting and Caring for Others: Adjust positions of patients on beds or tables. Administer basic health care or medical treatments. Administer therapy treatments to patients using hands or physical treatment aids. Apply bandages, dressings, or splints. Assist patients with daily activities. Assist practitioners to perform medical procedures. Feed patients. Give medications or immunizations. Hold patients to ensure proper positioning or safety.
  • Getting Information: Collect medical information from patients, family members, or other medical professionals. Interview patients to gather medical information.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates.
  • Documenting/Recording Information: Record vital statistics or other health information.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships.
  • Performing General Physical Activities: Clean patient rooms or patient treatment rooms. Dispose of biomedical waste in accordance with standards. Move patients to or from treatment areas. Transport biological or other medical materials.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitor patients to detect health problems.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems.
  • Developing and Building Teams.

Nursing Assistants Skills and Requirements:

  • Repairing Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  • Science Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Troubleshooting Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • SpreadsheetsUsing a computer application to enter, manipulate, and format text and numerical data; insert, delete, and manipulate cells, rows, and columns; and create and save worksheets, charts, and graphs.
  • Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Programming Writing computer programs for various purposes.
  • Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Management of Financial Resources Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

Nursing Assistants Salary and Wages:

Average Salary: 58,450. Education: typical education requirements include High school diploma or equivalent.

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Data from May 2023 courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program.


Mike Andrews is a freelance writer and serial entrepreneur focused on small-business and entrepreneurship for average people. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and a master's degree in theology and has appeared in a wide array of print and online periodicals including "HiCall," "Mature Living" and "Caregivers Home Companion."

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