CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients or clients with their healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Also known as a Nursing Assistant (NA), a Patient Care Assistant (PCA), or a State Tested Nurse Aid (STNA).

What does a certified nursing assistant do?

CNAs assist patients with daily activities. Some CNAs have additional responsibilities, such as administering medication, but the core role of the job includes:

  • Bathing and dressing patients
  • Serve meals and help patients eat
  • Take vital signs
  • Turning or re-positioning patients who are bedridden
  • Collect information about conditions and treatment plans from caregivers, nurses and doctors
  • Provide and empty bedpans
  • Lift patients into beds, wheelchairs, exam tables, etc.
  • Answer patient calls
  • Examine patients for bruises, blood in urine or other injuries/wounds
  • Clean and sanitize patient areas
  • Change bed sheets and restock rooms with necessary supplies
  • CNAs also serve as a liaison between patients and nurses and doctors and record and communicate all issues to medical staff.
  • Depending on where a CNA works, other duties might include transporting patients to operating rooms or treatment units and setting up equipment at a nurse or doctor’s request.

Aspiring CNAs should understand the job isn’t glamorous and can be graphic at times. From dressing wounds to cleaning a patient after an accident, CNAs are often put to the test on a daily basis.