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The Responsibilities of a Nursing Assistant

Nursing assistants work closely with and under the supervision of either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). For many who are considering a career in nursing, but are unsure of their choice, being a nursing assistant is a great way to see firsthand what nurses do, what the hospital atmosphere is like, and garner some experience. And, starting out as a nursing assistant before becoming a nurse, has gained popularity since the certification is easier and takes less time than a nursing degree program. However, being a nursing assistant does have its challenges. To help you get a clear picture, we will discuss the responsibilities of a nursing assistant in greater detail below.

One of the most important responsibilities of a nursing assistant is to monitor a patient’s vital signs and record significant changes. Keeping an eye on a patient’s blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration are important to realizing whether a patient is getting better or worse. As a result, nursing assistants are usually the first to know how well a patient is responding to a medicine or treatment method. They check the patient’s vital signs regularly and routinely, and report any new health issues or side effects, negative or positive improvements, and other significant changes.

Nursing assistants are also responsible for maintaining a patient’s personal hygiene while they are in the hospital, and/or medical facility. Some of these tasks include, but are not limited to helping the patients to shave, take their baths, and clipping their nails. They may also assist in dressing and undressing patients who are unable to perform these tasks for themselves. Another separate, but closely related duty is to facilitate a patient’s restroom needs. And the level of help required will depend on the patient’s situation, some will merely need to be walked to a restroom, others may require aid with emptying a catheter, and there may even be patients that are bed ridden and require more assistance. This type of task may be portrayed as the worst part of a nursing assistant’s job; but it is a very important aspect to fulfilling the nursing code of ethics, as such responsibilities are the ones that ensure that patients are able to maintain their dignity in spite of their particular ailment.

Nursing assistants are also responsible for keeping a patient’s area clean. This is another group of tasks that will differ depending on your patient and the health care facility where you work. Some patients have relatives that do most of their cleaning, other patients need help. And, some health care organizations have other personnel to handle these tasks. Yet a nursing assistant’s cleaning duties can include, but are not limited to emptying garbage cans, ensuring that a patient has clean sheets and towels, and cleaning the floor. If you work in a doctor’s office, you will not be caring for the bedridden but you may have to clean or sanitize the examination area after the doctor sees each patient.

Setting up a patient’s food and nutritional supplements, feeding them, documenting what and how much they eat and their level of fluid intake is another responsibility of a nursing assistant. Though nursing assistants may not necessarily have to feed all of their patients, they must keep track of what their patients can eat, and what they are allowed to have. Typically, when a patent is receiving surgery the doctor will say that they are not allowed to have any food or fluids after a certain time. Unfortunately, the people who prepare meals may have sent a meal to the patient, because they were unaware of the doctor’s orders. Nursing assistants must step in and verify this and other information such as the types of food a patient may be allergic to, or unable to eat due to digestive concerns.

Giving a patient their medicine and ensuring that he or she actually takes it correctly is also a duty of a nursing assistant. Additionally they may be looked upon to double check the accuracy of orders or to inform physicians and/or nurses of any medication or substances that a patient may have already taken that could affect their treatment.

Although these are the majority of nursing assistant responsibilities, you may find that others exist and are special or for specific situations. For example, a bedridden patient may need to be turned on his or her side to prevent bedsores. A younger patient may require more attention than others, while disabled patients may need assistance getting into wheelchairs and/or putting on prosthetic equipment.

It is important to note that if you decide to become a certified nursing assistant, you will perform most of the same tasks. The primary thing to remember is that all of these tasks are critical to the patient’s health and well-being.


Source by Shawn Thomas

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