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CNA Duties & Responsibilities

Updated on October 27, 2013

Understanding the role of the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is essential if you're looking to undertake the CNA training program. The average role of the CNA will vary depending on where they work, for example CNAs who work in nursing homes will have different roles to those who work within the hospital or home/community setting. However, in general the roles and responsibilities for training purposes are identical and anything additional which is specific to the job you're applying for will be learnt on the job.

The remainder of this hub form the CNA Training Helper will aim to provide you with a clear and concise insight into the standard role and responsibilities of the CNA or Certified Nursing Assistant.

What Does The Average CNA Have To Do In Their Job?

Depending on where you work the role of the CNA may vary as mentioned above, however understanding what the average CNA has to do throughout their employment, regardless of the location, is essential to your training. A list of general CNA duties and responsibilities can be seen below:

  • Assisting patients to wash and dress themselves

  • Assisting patients to maintain their own toileting needs

  • Assisting patients to maintain their own nutritional intake

  • Documentation of care and interventions

  • Taking patient observations including blood press, respirations and temperature

  • General housework and cleaning duties

  • Providing emotional, social and physical support

As we mentioned above the list of CNA duties and responsibilities will vary depending on the setting which they're employed within. Generally, a CNA will work in 1 of 4 different locations, these include:

  • The nursing home based CNA

  • The hospital based CNA

  • The community based CNA

  • The doctors office based CNA

The duties of the CNA in the hospital and GP setting may be a little more technical, whereas the duties of the CNA in the community or nursing home based setting may involve more general tasks such as washing, dressing, feeding and cleaning.

Below, we have outlined the main duties likely to be undertaken in the variation locations according to where they're working.

The Duties & Responsibilities Of The Nursing Home Based CNA

The following duties are only usually carried out by those CNAs who are working within a nursing home or residential home, in other words a long term care facility in which patients spend the remainder of their lives. These are in addition to those listed above:

  • Cooking the meals

  • Washing clothes and other general laundry

  • Escorting residents on days out

The Duties & Responsibilities Of The Hospital Based CNA

The role of the hospital based CNA is often a little moe technical in it's nature, that's not to say though that the role of the hospital CNA is any more important than other locations within which CNAs work, all of the CNAs are just as important as the next. General duties and responsibilities include, in addition to those listed above:

  • Taking and documenting patient vital signs including temperature, blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, oxygen levels and more

  • Changing dressings to wound areas

The Duties & Responsibilities Of The Community Based CNA

The community based CNA is one which works within patients homes, they assist the patients with various aspects of their activities of daily living. The community based CNA is essential because without them many other people who have to go into long term care. Duties of the CNA within the community setting are a little more general, and often similar to those in a nursing or residential home. Duties often include:

  • Cooking the meals

  • Washing clothes and other general laundry

  • Administering medications from dosset containers

  • Social interaction

  • Assisting with toileting needs

  • Changing basic dressings

The Duties & Responsibilities Of The Doctors Office CNA

The doctors office CNA role is more about administrative tasks than the other, however advanced CNAs may be able to change dressings, take blood and take patient observations.

Do I Have To Specialize Straight Away?

The duties of each type of CNA are different, however the CNA training is standard and follows a standard protocol and layout for each of the U.S states, for that reason you don't need to decide what you want to do straight away. In fact, we advise completing your CNA training, looking for a job and then trying several roles before to settle for one you're happy with.

If you want to find out more information about the qualifications and requirements needed to train as a CNA, please visit our CNA Training Information hub which gives you an overview of what you need to get onto most CNA training courses.


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      cheyenne 22 months ago

      Thank you for the information it was very helpful....I just had to get some research thinking becoming a CNA

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      Jane Symons 5 years ago from Alaska

      They do work hard, CNA's make up a good part of the healthcare structure in the US for sure.

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      HeatherDRoberts 5 years ago

      This is good, my sister is a CNA and it is very hard work!