Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, provide basic care and help with activities of daily living. They typically do the following:
- Clean and bathe patients or residents
- Help patients use the toilet and dress
- Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
- Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
- Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
- Serve meals and help patients eat
Some nursing assistants may also dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.
In nursing homes, assistants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years, assistants may develop close relationships with their patients.
Nursing assistants work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.
Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program and must pass their state’s competency exam to become certified. Orderlies generally have at least a high school diploma.
Employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Because of the growing elderly population, many nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed in long-term care facilities.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Nursing Assistants and Orderlies,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm (visited May 22, 2015).