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How to Become Private Duty Nursing Assistant

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After training as a nurse's aide, some people choose to become private duty nursing assistants. Also known as home health aides, home care aides or personal care aides, nursing assistants usually perform tasks in hospitals, nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Private duty nursing assistants, however, go into patients' homes to perform tasks. Some assistants have more than one patient per day, so travel is often required to get from one patient's home to the next.

Private Duty Nursing Assistants

Research. As with any endeavor, first formulate a plan. Know whether this is a lucrative and desirable position in your geographic location. If possible, speak to other private duty nursing assistants to ask about the duties. It would also be a wise choice to see if you can "shadow" an assistant to get an up close look at exactly what they do. It would be a waste of time and resources to become a nursing assistant, just to find out that you don't enjoy the work.

Complete a nursing assistant course. It is not completely unheard of for a private duty nursing assistant to receive on-the-job training. It is, however, unlikely. To be as marketable as possible, complete a course to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Depending on the state in which you live, the course could last "from several days to a few months," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The classes are usually taught by registered nurses, and teach "personal care skills such as how to help patients bathe, eat, and groom themselves," according to the BLS. As well, nursing assistants will learn how to check blood pressure, perform other vital signs checks and attend to other patient needs.

Get some experience. As with any job, employers often demand the skills of an experienced professional. An employer looking for a private duty nursing assistant might ask for professional references who can attest to your abilities as an aide. Therefore, it is probably best to get some experience as an assistant in a hospital or nursing home setting, prior to applying for a private position. Check your local newspaper to see how much experience employers look for in the position you ultimately desire.

Find an agency. Most private duty nursing assistants work through an agency. Find out about the agencies in your area. Know how much experience they will want you to have. Find out if they have full and part-time positions that meet your needs. Determine what you are likely to be paid, if there is plenty of work, how many patients you will be expected to take care of daily and find out about the agency's idea of assisting. Some agencies expect you to only take care of the patient and his medical needs. Other agencies take on patients who will also require you to cook, shop and clean up after them.

Advertise privately. If working for an agency doesn't appeal to you, there is a chance you can work for yourself. Self-employment is a lot of work, but if you live in a community with a large elderly population, advertising your services could help you. Advertising can be done via newspaper, fliers or a personal website. With a growing population of aging individuals, becoming an aide will remain a popular career choice. The BLS notes that "excellent job opportunities are expected" for nursing assistants.


Quantia Watson Shelby began writing in 1998. She has written for "The Barberton Herald," and "The Sun." Shelby taught kindergarten through college, so education is a favorite topic. She is a registered medical assistant and a medical billing specialist and enjoys writing about medicine-related topics. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kent State in 2001, then studied literature at Cleveland State.

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