What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a healthcare professional who takes care of patients directly. They are the backbone of the healthcare system – without them, many of the tasks that help keep patients comfortable or keep the facility running would not be done. Nurses, doctors, and especially patients, rely on CNAs to make quality care possible.

Job Duties of a CNA

A CNA is often the member of the healthcare team that spends the most time with the patient. Under the direction of a nurse, CNA carries out several patient care tasks.

Patients often build a strong relationship with CNAs, and that can positively impact the quality of life of patients and may lead to faster recovery. Other healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses strongly rely on the information and feedback provided by CNAs in order to best treat patients.

CNA duties often include:

  • Taking vital signs like temperature, pulse, and respiration rate.
  • Measuring blood pressure
  • Assessing patient’s pain
  • Assisting patients with eating
  • Helping patients change or bathe
  • Repositioning patients
  • Helping with wound care
  • Assisting with certain medical procedures
  • Transporting patients
  • Cleaning and changing linens
  • Restocking supplies
  • Documenting information in the patient chart
  • Answering patient questions

Education Requirements of CNA

CNA education requirements vary by state. Certification is earned by completion of a state-approved program. These programs typically consist of completing 1-2 months of training that prepares you to perform the skills required as a CNA.

Completion of the program often consists of a written exam, plus an oral or hands-on competency exam. CNA courses are often available at colleges and healthcare facilities. A National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAPP) exam does exist and is currently required by some states.

Where do CNAs work?

CNAs can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor offices. One great option for CNAs is working for a staffing agency. These agencies offer a variety of positions in diverse settings and with flexible scheduling.

If you are unsure what area of medicine you would like to work in, a staffing agency provides an excellent opportunity to try out various medical specialties. CNAs are in high demand and shift options are typically available throughout the day, therefore, you can find shifts to accommodate your schedule. This flexibility helps maintain a good work-life balance. Some CNAs decide to further their education and earn advanced degrees in the medical field while working.


CNAs play a critical role in the quality of care patients receive. The decision to pursue a career as a CNA can serve many purposes. Working as a CNA can be a fulfilling long-term career. It can also be a great introduction to healthcare and serve as a stepping stone to an advanced career in medicine.

Many healthcare professionals start off working as nursing assistants and continue their education to become nurses or doctors. The environment where you work makes a huge difference in the feeling of job satisfaction you will gain. When seeking employment options, consider a nursing assistant staffing agency.

If you are already a certified nursing assistant, contact a recruiter today!