Frequently Asked Questions about Being a Nursing Assistant | Harris Casel Institute Melbourne FL
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Frequently Asked Questions about Being a Nursing Assistant

This role provides personal, direct care to patients in need.

A Nursing Assistant helps an older patient.

Within the field of nursing, there are several different career paths. The role of a Nursing Assistant is more limited than that of a nurse. Individuals in these entry-level positions work closely with patients on a daily basis to handle basic needs. In this way, Nursing Assistants can have a direct and positive impact on the lives of their patients.

If you are considering a career in this field, you might be curious about the daily duties of a Nursing Assistant and what training is required. To help you decide whether this profession might be a good fit for you, here are some answers to questions people frequently ask about our program:

What are the daily duties of a Nursing Assistant?

A nursing assistant focuses on basic care for patients. These may seems like simple tasks, but they can be difficult for those who are sick, suffer from a disability, or are unable to care for themselves as an older person. As a critical member of a healthcare team, a Nursing Assistant:

  • Helps a patient to eat
  • Aids with dressing and grooming, including care for a patient’s hair and fingernails
  • Offers support with personal hygiene, such as using the bathroom, teeth brushing, and bathing
  • Assists with mobility, to help the patient to sit up, take a walk, or travel to an examination within the healthcare facility

Some Nursing Assistants may also be charged with taking patients’ vital signs, such as temperature or blood pressure, or assisting with certain medical procedures. Since Nursing Assistants work alongside nurses and physicians, part of their role is to inform other medical staff about any issues their patients may be facing.

This work can be physically demanding, especially to help patients move, in order to change bed sheets or shift from a bed to a wheelchair. You need to be prepared to spend most of your shift on your feet. One benefit of this job, however, is the chance to develop close bonds with your patients over time.

What is the work environment for a Nursing Assistant like?

Most Nursing Assistants work in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 2016 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 40% of nursing assistants worked in nursing care facilities. A little more than a quarter of the country’s Nursing Assistants work in a hospital, but others work in home healthcare (5%) as well as assisted living and continuing care communities (11%).

Nursing Assistants usually report to a Registered Nurse. The workplace is professional, where Nursing Assistants must follow certain protocols for safety. People in this position are generally expected to wear scrubs. 

What training is required to be a Nursing Assistant?

Programs that train Nursing Assistants are different lengths, depending on where they are located. An accelerated program like the one we offer at the Harris Casel Institute makes it possible to complete your classes in about six weeks. In that short time, you would emerge with marketable skills that would make it possible to apply to Nursing Assistant positions.

In most states, Nursing Assistants need to pass a test given by the state before working in the field, but this varies, so check with the Board of Nursing in your state about specific requirements. Regardless of where you are located, look for a program run by an accredited nursing program, such as those at vocational schools, community colleges, private career schools, and two-year colleges. 

What subjects would I study in a Nursing Assistant program?

The program at the Harris Casel Institute features the chance to learn practical skills as well as medical concepts—like anatomy, physiology, and infectious diseases. You will learn the basic principles of nursing, such as how to handle the needs of patients, offer restorative care, and look after those who may have cognitive impairments. Our trained nurses and medical staff offer supervision for hands-on coursework. Once you have completed your classes, students do an externship to gain 40 hours of “real-world” experience.

What is the job outlook for Nursing Assistants?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Employment of nursing assistants is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.” This is from the job outlook for Nursing Assistants in in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The main reason for this possible growth, the Handbook suggests, is that people in the Baby Boom generation are getting older, and this means they will require more long-term services. In addition, since people are living longer, there are more chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or dementia, and Nursing Assistants will need to provide care for these patients.

How much do Nursing Assistants make?

The pay for this job will depend on where you are located geographically, as well as the individual employer. However, one way to get a sense of what you might earn in terms of a salary is to consult the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which offers median annual wage of Nursing Assistants in the U.S. Another way to get a sense of what you might earn in your area is to look at individual job postings, which may list the hourly rate an employer is able to pay.

What should I do next to learn more?

If you are looking for a training program in the Melbourne, FL area, we invite you to learn more about what we offer at the Harris Casel Institute. You’ll need to have earned a high school diploma, or the equivalent. At Harris Casel, we make the application process easy, so reach out to us for more information. We are eager to help you make the transition to this important healthcare profession!

We hope this article has provided some helpful context about the role of Nursing Assistants, as you consider whether this might be a good career for you. This work can be a great choice if you love working with people and have a passion for healthcare. Good luck with whatever professional path you decide to take!

This article is part of the Harris Casel Institute’s weekly blog. We offer several different career training programs at our campus in Melbourne, FL. Contact us online for more info, or call 1-321-676-4066 to speak with a representative of our Admission Department, who can answer any questions you might have. We hope to hear from you!