Uncategorized

Clearing Up Misconceptions Regarding Nursing Assistants: Balancing a Family and a Career

A Guest Post from Pamelia Brown…

Clearing Up Misconceptions Regarding Nursing Assistants: Balancing a Family and a Career

If you currently have a family or kids on the way, a job as a full time nurse may be more demanding than you think. Many people believe nursing assistants are women or men who are solely incapable of becoming RNs, This is a very inaccurate generalization. A job as a nursing assistant can be fast-paced and fulfilling. Additionally, nursing assistants can usually work less demanding hours than full-time RNS. This is one of the main reasons people choose this career path, not due to their incompetency in any sense. As a mother of three, I have found this career choice to be the perfect fit for me. I am still in touch with the field of medicine, and my job allows me to help people with everyday tasks. However, I still have time to attend my son’s basketball games or my daughter’s ballet performance. Below, I would like to clear up three common misconceptions I hear regularly (regarding the career of a nursing assistant).

Nursing Assistants Have No Formal Training in the Medical Field
A common misconception regarding nursing assistants: they have no training in the medical field. This is an unfair, inaccurate assumption. In addition to obtaining a high school degree or GED, prospective assistant nurses must also enroll in a 6-12 week certification program. Most certification programs require nursing assistant students to take courses in subject such as: anatomy, physiology, nutrition, infections, safety control, and bedside nursing skills. Additionally, nursing assistants must pass a certification exam after they finish their respective programs.

Nursing Assistants Get Paid Hourly
This is another misconception that bothers me. Many nursing assistants are hired full time, and they get paid salaries in addition to qualifying for benefits! According to most career websites, the average salary for a nursing assistant is $21,000. Although $21,000 may not be enough for a whole family, it can still be substantial additional income for a family of 5!

Nursing Assistants Solely Engage in Housekeeping Tasks
Although nursing assistants do have to take care of some mundane housekeeping tasks, they definitely engage in medical related work too! Nursing assistants often have to brief nurses or even doctors about the condition of certain patients, and with additional training set up x-ray machines, and draw blood when necessary. After a few years of experience and training, nursing assistants may become more involved in other more important tasks. After all, everyone has to start at the bottom of the food chain to some extent. You have to prove your competence and work your way up!

This guest contribution was submitted by Pamelia Brown, who specializes in writing about associates degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: pamelia.brown @ gmail.com.

12 Comments

  • Riff!!!!!!

    Prior to being a nursing student I was an auto worker with a Master's degree and worked as a nursing assistant shortly after taking a buyout while waiting to get into a very good nursing school. I actually spoke up one day when an instructor may have mentioned that nursing home workers were uneducated and to me that was the nursing assistants who were working daily showing compassion, love, and helping with the ADLs of patients in the long term care facilities. A nursing assistant may spend the most time with a patient or resident and will give very pertinent information not only to nurses but doctors as well and that is the truth so always be kind to your assistants and don't put yourself above anyone just because you have some letters behind your name.

  • oosokute

    I agree! I have 2 good friends who are nursing assistants and they have been told a couple times by patient’s things like, “you are just an assistant, you don’t know anything; I want to speak with someone who actually has a degree”. That frustrates me because they work just like anyone else in the medical field. Just because you didn’t attend a 2 or 4 year program, or as Riff!!! Said in the previous comment “just because you have some letters behind your name” doesn’t mean you are the best. They still had to have training and needed to have knowledge about it before working with peoples’ lives in their hand. I think it is also a good job especially because you have more patient contact then some nurses and doctors do and patients do appreciate feeling like they have somebody there to care.

    I am in nursing school now however I was a nursing assistant for a bit and I felt as though the nurses and doctors came up to me to ask if the patient, in my opinion, was acting different or not because as they were busy focusing on the disease state of the patient and documenting, I was focusing on the patient and how the hospital stay was affecting them and just communicating with the patient.

    I feel like the people that state these misconceptions don’t truly understand what nursing assistants are all about and I am glad that you posted this because it will clear things up for people reading it.

  • Clare

    Great post! I work as a nursing assistant while in school and I work with many wonderful nursing assistants. I agree with you- several of them have no desire to be nurses. Their sisters, mothers, friends may be nurses; but they prefer to have more time with their patients. All of them are certified medical assistants. Also, at our hospital, a full time assistant makes around 35,000 with benefits. The statement I agree the most with you on is that nursing assistants do so much more than housekeeping tasks. Many of the most important things people do each day- bathing, eating, toileting- are done by the assistant. The work they do is invaluable. Also, the compassion, time spent with the patient, and kindness is immeasurable. The nurses could not be great nurses without great nursing assistants. Thank you for your post!

  • Renata

    I completely agree with the things written in this post. I am currently enrolled in nursing school and have been working as a nursing assistant for about 6 months. The amount of information I have learned at my job is huge, and most of it, I have learned from other nursing assistants.
    There are many assistants who are in nursing school, so therefore they are not RNs, or BSNs, they are on their way to getting their degrees.
    Certified Nurse's Assistants also have to know a broad amount of information to be able to perform their jobs/duties. As said above, even though many housekeeping tasks are assigned to them, they also have to know medical information. Most assistants are responsible for obtaining and reporting abnormal vital signs, glucose levels, etc. Most assistants know how to assess a patient for mental status changes, and unusual occurrences. Many times, the RNs are alerted by the assistants, because they spend more time with the patients then do the RNs.
    Being a nursing assistant is a very satisfying job. Hopefully people will start to recognize all of their knowledge and hard work, and truly appreciate everything an assistant does for a patient while on the field.

  • Andrew

    Really enjoyed this post, I too work as a nursing assistant, and I used it as a transition for myself to see if pursuing a nursing degree was really the path I should choose. I found it to be very rewarding, still do, and have used it to supplement some of my education through nursing school. I interact with every patient on a one to one level so much more as a nursing assistant than I have as a nursing student.
    In addition to my normal responsibilities I do get delegated many nursing interventions such as dressing changes, IV catheter insertion and phlebotomy as well as assisting patients with ADL's and other activities.
    There would not be enough nurses on any unit to get all of the work and patient care done that is needed. Nursing assitants are an important part of the health care team.

  • Courtney

    This is such a wonderful post! I am currently a nursing student and have never actually worked as a nursing assistant, but I know many people who have. Nursing assistants may not be doing the same things as nurses, but they certainly work just as hard. Not to mention the have more direction patient care and therefore probably have a better relationship with the patient than the nurse. For a nurse to think so little of a nursing assistant is heartbreaking. These are the people who are doing a lot of work with patients that I am sure a nurse would not regularly want to do (i.e. getting a patient onto a bedpan), which allows a nurse to have more time developing and carrying out the plan of care for her patients. If it were not for nursing assistants, nurses would be pulling out their hair more so than they already do. So if you have not taken the time to thank a nursing assistant today, stop and do so. I can guarantee they will appreciate it!

  • Courtney

    This is such a wonderful post! I am currently a nursing student and have never actually worked as a nursing assistant, but I know many people who have. Nursing assistants may not be doing the same things as nurses, but they certainly work just as hard. Not to mention the have more direction patient care and therefore probably have a better relationship with the patient than the nurse. For a nurse to think so little of a nursing assistant is heartbreaking. These are the people who are doing a lot of work with patients that I am sure a nurse would not regularly want to do (i.e. getting a patient onto a bedpan), which allows a nurse to have more time developing and carrying out the plan of care for her patients. If it were not for nursing assistants, nurses would be pulling out their hair more so than they already do. So if you have not taken the time to thank a nursing assistant today, stop and do so. I can guarantee they will appreciate it!

  • kiran

    Excellent post. I agree with all things in this post. Nursing assistants have more responsibilities in their work.It is a great stepping stone how to balance the work and personal life.
    Thank you very much for this useful information.

    Nursing

  • David

    Definitely agree. If you think Nurses are under-appreciated, Nursing Assistants and the value they bring is not recognized enough. Nurse Assistants or CNA's sacrifice their body to aide the patients with their ADL's. Although patients interact with nurses, therapists, and doctors who help define their plan of care, 80% of that plan is delivered or supported by CNA's. This is often not understood by patients.

    Because of the payscale for Nurse Aides, they often hold two or three jobs, depending on their home situation. There are some great employers out there for
    Fulltime and PRN CNA Jobs.

    I am grateful for the service provided by dedicated CNA's who do a lot more than just punch a clock.