Nursing Assistant CNA

Vital signs help us assess patients, and there are common vital signs that we assess as nurses: Heart Rate (Pulse), Respiration Rate, Temperature, Blood Pressure, and Oxygen Saturation.


The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) designation is the first step in becoming a nurse. After Becoming a CNA, you will assist in caring for patients by monitoring vital statistics, bathing, feeding and maintaining personal hygiene. Most CNA and nurse's aide programs can be completed within a few months, allowing you to begin working. As the public ages, nursing care has become a major source of employment for technical program graduates. In nursing homes and residential care facilities, nursing assistants are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Nursing assistants often develop close relationships with their patients because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years.

  • 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.

The next step in a nursing career is to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). This is a one year long program, in which you'll work under an RN, and be assigned advanced care work. Practice requirements for nurses aides and LPNs vary from state to state, but basic duties include passing meds, wound care, and administering feeding tubes. One year nursing certificate programs train students to pass the licensing test, in order to become an LPN or LVN.


Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program in which they learn the basic principles of nursing and complete supervised clinical work. In addition, nursing assistants typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training. After completing a state-approved education program, nursing assistants take a competency exam.

Nursing assistants who have passed the competency exam are placed on a state registry. Some states have other requirements as well, such as continuing education and a criminal background check. By comparison, orderlies do not need a license, however, many jobs require a basic life support (BLS) certification, which shows they are trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).


Certification requirements include board certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The license period varies by individual state, but is usually valid for either two or three years, at which time you'll need to renew. Registered nurses (RNs) are not required to be certified in a particular specialty by state law. For example, it isn't necessary to be a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN) to work on a hospital Medical-Surgical (MedSurg) floor, and most MedSurg nurses are not CMSRNs. To keep your license current, you must take continuing education courses, and renew your license every few years. There are a fixed number of credits that each state requires, and if you work in a hospital facility, these courses may be offered on-site.

This section offers practice tests in several subject areas. Each of the following multiple-choice tests has 10 questions to work on. No sign-up required, just straight to the test.


Ask yourself if you can see yourself being a nurse, having daily contact with patients who may be elderly, ill, or recovering from surgery. Other patients may have physical or emotional disabilities, which can be challenging. While nursing classes and internships will prepare you well, certain innate qualities that you bring to bear will help you succeed as a nurse.

Nurses must relate well with other people, and the personal touches that a nurse adds to overall medial care can give one-on-one attention that patients remember the most.

Qualities of a Successful Nurse
Nursing assistants must communicate effectively to address patients' or residents' concerns. They also need to relay important information to other healthcare workers.
Nursing assistants and orderlies assist and care for the sick, injured, and elderly. Doing so requires a compassionate and empathetic attitude.
The routine tasks of cleaning, feeding, and bathing patients or residents can be stressful. Certified nursing assistants must have patience to complete these tasks.
Nursing assistants and orderlies spend much of their time on their feet. They should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or moving patients.
CNAs need to be responsible and detail oriented, because they must make sure that patients get the correct care at the right time.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test used to assess a patient's general healthiness. It can help determine infection, anemia, certain types of blood cancers, etc. A CBC with differential will assess the 5 types of white blood cells (basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils).

Medication Labels

Different types of labels you might encounter as a nurse or nursing student: Brand name medications vs generic names, administration, extended release, controlled release, Dosage strength, Medication lot number, Expiration date, NDC number.

Stages of Labor

Stages of labor nursing OB review for nursing students who are studying for the NCLEX exam and maternity nursing lecture exams.

Heart Sounds

Heart sounds (S1, S2, S3, S4, murmurs) for nursing assessment examination. This video details the anatomy of the heart, heart sound auscultation points (sites), blood flow, diastole, systole, tips for distinguishing S1 from S2, and how to use the diaphragm and bell of the stethoscope when listening the atrioventricular (AV) and semilunar (SL) valve closure, such as the aortic, pulmonic (S2 sounds), tricuspid, and mitral valves (S1 sounds).


Nursing assistants hold about 1.5 million jobs. Most nursing assistants and orderlies work full time. Because nursing homes and hospitals provide care at all hours, nursing aides and orderlies may need to work nights, weekends, and holidays. The work of nursing assistants and orderlies can be strenuous. They spend much of their time on their feet as they take care of many patients or residents.

As the population ages, nursing assistants and orderlies will be needed to assist and care for elderly patients in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. In addition, shifts in federal and state funding are increasing the demand for long-term care, which should lead to increased opportunities.

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