Nurse’s aides are an important part of the health care system. These compassionate professionals provide hands-on care to patients who can’t care for themselves. You can work in this field while completing your nursing degree, but many nursing assistants stay in their positions for years. The best part about this career? You don’t need any formal education to start working.
Do You Need a Degree to Be a Nurse’s Assistant?
In many states, you can find work as an orderly or nurse’s aide without academic training. Nursing homes occasionally offer free, on-site programs to teach you everything you need to know to work with patients. You’ll learn how to help patients dress, wash and eat. You’ll also learn basic medical information and ethics. You may need to shadow a nursing assistant for several shifts before you’re able to work on your own. Once you’ve built experience with your first employer, you can look for employment at hospitals or home health agencies.
Related resource: 50 Most Affordable Bachelor’s Degrees in Health Informatics
What Do You Need to Know to Be a Nurse’s Aide?
As a nursing assistant, you will not provide any medical care to patients. You also won’t administer medications. However, you need to know how to identify serious health emergencies and communicate them to licensed health care professionals. You’ll also need to understand how to help patients with:
- serious injuries
- mental disorders
- other unique needs
The most important traits for working as a nurse’s assistant are empathy and compassion. If you truly care for your patients, you’ll pick up the practical skills you need as you go along.
How Do You Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?
The easiest way to start working as a nursing assistant is to take a Certified Nursing Assistant class. You can attend these classes full-time for a month or part-time during weekends or evenings for several months. When you’re finished, you’ll need to pass a written and practical exam. Once you’ve earned your certification, you’ll be eligible to work in any health care facility. You can help new mothers in a Labor & Delivery ward, care for a relative at home or work with pediatric patients. In some states, you can find free training courses if you’re unemployed or underemployed.
Can Nursing Students Work as a Nursing Aide?
Many hospitals and nursing homes hire nursing students to work as orderlies. If you’re studying to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN), you can likely find a part-time job at a local health organization. Once you’ve completed your first semester of nursing clinicals, you’ll have the skills to help patients with basic tasks. Health care companies love hiring nursing students because they want you to work for them once you’ve finished your degree. Gaining experience as a nursing assistant is a great way to jump start your nursing career and learn about specific patient populations.
You can start a new career in health care in just a few weeks. As a nurse’s aide, you can make a real difference in your patients’ experiences, so don’t hesitate to start your new path.