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Becoming a nursing assistant is a way to get a foot in the door of health care with minimal educational commitment. Candidates complete courses at technical or community colleges, then pass an exam to earn certification. The pay is quite low; assistants averaged $24,010 a year in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, job demand is high, as a 20 percent increase in opportunities is expected through 2020. Mastering the job's objectives will give you a sense of what's expected in this field and prepare you for moving forward.
Supporting Basic Needs
Nursing assistants often work with the elderly and infirm. For these people, everyday self-care that is normally taken for granted has become impossible to do alone. Assistants often have to help patients use the bathroom. This may include helping them to maintain good hygiene, changing diapers and recognizing the different types of catheters and how to care for them. They may have to turn them in bed so they must understand positioning techniques for alignment and comfort. They might help them bathe, care for their hair and eat. While doing these tasks, it's essential for assistants to preserve the dignity of their patients. They represent more than just hours in a workday, they're real people with feelings, fears and needs.
Following Treatment Plans
Assistants also support patients' treatment regimes as outlined by their doctors. They need to know how to clean wounds properly, change dressings and recognize the first signs of infection. They perform cast care for patients with broken bones. They take and record vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and height and weight. They ensure that nutritional needs are being met and they monitor blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes.
Strict Sanitation Standards
Everyone in a health care setting, from patients to receptionists, work amid viral disease and pathogens on a regular basis. Nursing assistants are on the forefront of the fight against the spread of illnesses. They're thoroughly educated about specific pathogens, how they're contracted and how to stop them from spreading. They make sure all surfaces, furniture and medical tools are sanitized. Patient accidents and spills are dealt with swiftly and according to safety protocol. Proper hand-washing procedures are followed at all times.
Nursing assistants work in conjunction with licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and physicians. Each plays an important role in ensuring the well-being of patients, so working well together is a necessity. Assistants should communicate openly but respectfully with supervisors, and should encourage frank communication in return. Personal differences don't have a place in health care; the patient is the priority. Everyone on the team must step up, take care of their responsibilities and be willing to go the extra mile when necessary.
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."
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