The world of medicine is an exciting and fulfilling field for those that have a passion for helping others. Nursing assistant positions are becoming an increasingly popular option for hopeful medical professionals because they allow for a high level of involvement in medical treatment with less required schooling. Despite their somewhat more lenient training requirements, nursing assistants perform a variety of important duties that are essential to patients’ health and well-being.
In general, nursing assistants work under the supervision of a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse, providing support and assistance with all aspects of the nursing process. Hospital settings are governed by a definite hierarchy that allows the most qualified professionals to care for as many patients as possible by delegating simpler responsibilities to others. As such, nursing assistants are often charged with the important responsibilities that registered nurses do not have enough time to oversee.
Monitoring patients’ vital signs is one of the most important responsibilities assigned to nursing assistants. Because doctors and nurses often can’t stay with a single patient for very long, they need a support staff to watch for changes in their patients’ conditions. A nursing assistant will often have to measure a patient’s blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and breathing to gauge the efficacy of a particular treatment. The observations and recordings of nursing assistants help determine whether a patient is responding well to their medication, which is extremely important in the recovery process.
Overseeing a patient’s diet and medication dosage is another of the nursing assistant’s responsibilities. This is especially important in hospital settings, where mistakes may be made and patients may be sent the wrong meals or medicine. Nursing assistants monitor how much a patient is eating, what they can or cannot eat, and make sure that they are adhering to their medicinal regimens. In many ways, the nursing assistant acts as an extra set of eyes to double check orders and make sure the patients are getting what they need. This is all done in the name of carrying out the doctor’s orders and helping the patient recover as quickly as possible.
The nursing assistant is often delegated the task of helping with a patient’s personal hygiene needs as well. Depending on age, severity of illness, and physical ability, some patients may need help with personal hygiene matters such as shaving, bathing, dressing, and undressing. Patients may require assistance when using the restroom as well. This aspect of the job could include helping patients walk to the bathroom, emptying catheters, or assisting with the use of bed pans. This is often viewed as one of the less glamorous parts of the job, but it is essential in helping patients to recover while maintaining their sense of dignity.
Many young professionals view the nursing assistant as a stepping stone, or an introduction into the medical world. They may later pursue registered nurse certification and go on to study in RSN to MSN online degree programs to advance their careers. Nursing assistants may not have the most glamorous jobs in the world of medicine, but they work hard to help patients recover. In the end, that is what is most important in a career in medicine.