Caregiver vs. CNA: What’s the Difference?

Entering the medical profession to care for patients is a noble career choice. Many people choose healthcare because they want to make a difference and help people.

There are many types of jobs available in healthcare – from the receptionist to doctor. Two that are critical in providing direct support to patients are caregivers and certified nursing assistants (CNA).

Both jobs are rewarding and connect you to patients who need you – but what’s the difference?

What Is A CNA?

A CNA is specially trained and certified in specific aspects of patient care. They often work alongside nurses in long-term care facilities, hospitals, clinics, and home health.

To become a CNA, a person must pass a state-approved class that includes classroom and hands-on skills training, and pass their state’s certification exam. Their clinical skills training prepares them to assist nurses in caring for patients.

CNA programs prepare them to provide care in many areas, including:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming and personal hygiene
  • Hand, foot, and mouth care
  • Managing incontinence
  • Measuring and recording weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respirations, urinary output
  • Monitoring nutritional intake
  • Helping a resident in a care facility take their medications
  • Performing range of motion (ROM) exercises
  • Managing perineal and catheter care
  • Safely lifting, transferring, and assisting patients with mobility problems
  • Shaving a patient before surgery
  • Assisting with restroom needs
  • Turning bedbound patients to prevent bedsores

CNAs may also assist in stocking supplies, cleaning and disinfecting rooms and bed linens, or setting up medical equipment. The range of duties a CNA performs may be different in each state.

What Is a Caregiver?

A person in a caregiver role can provide non-medical care to seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone needing help or companionship. They can help people live independently at home or in an assisted living facility. Caregivers can help care for people with dementia but can’t do medical tasks like giving medications.

A caregiver isn’t a certified position and typically doesn’t require formal training. That’s not to say they don’t provide essential care! A caregiver can help with everyday tasks and become a valued companion. Caregivers typically can:

  • Assist with hobbies or activities
  • Do light housekeeping and laundry
  • Document food intake
  • Help the patient move around in their home
  • Play games and activities with the patient
  • Prepare meals and assist with eating
  • Provide companionship
  • Read to the patient
  • Run errands
  • Take the patient to appointments
  • Write letters, help pay bills
  • And other non-clinical care

Should You Become a Caregiver or CNA?

Both a caregiver and a CNA can help patients have a better quality of life by assisting them with daily activities. Choosing between becoming a caregiver and a CNA comes down to your level of interest in the medical component.

Often, people choose to become a CNA because they enjoy a more clinical role, or have plans to become a nurse or doctor in the future.

Becoming a caregiver is a rewarding career path for those who prefer to provide companionship to patients, especially elderly people.

Whichever path you choose, you can be sure that you are making a difference in the lives of patients in need!

Start your career today – apply for a CNA or caregiver position!