What is a CNA and What Do They Do?

The role of a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA as it is more commonly referred to is incredibly versatile and involves a number of different tasks and lines of work. One of the first questions that people looking to get into this field tend to ask is exactly what is a CNA and what does a CNA do? The basic idea of this line of work to offer professional care to patients, and perform a number of other tasks that can assist them in their daily lives. Because this is a job that entails closely working with people on a day to day basis, there is a certain amount of social skills that one needs to perform this job well. While working at this kind of a job, being compassionate and understanding of the person’s situation while offering them quality care is essential. They must also be someone who the patients can depend on. This is a criterion that many CNAs in nursing homes are required to fulfill. In these situations, the patient is sometimes solely dependent on the CNA, making them their primary caregiver, which is an important role to carry out. You can learn more about what CNAs do by reviewing our list of CNA training materials which details the specific duties of a CNA.


In short, the answer to “what is a CNA?” is someone who performs multiple tasks to assist medical practitioners in offering patient care.

Skills Required to Succeed as a CNA

Having good communication skills is something that is incredibly essential when trying to perform this job well. CNAs generally have to be in touch with the patients, the Registered Nurse, the Medical Practitioner or Doctor and other professionals working alongside them. Because of this, being able to properly communicate all the necessary information is an important part of the entire job.

Because of the nature of the work that they do, a CNA must also be technologically adept while performing their functions. Often, patients are in need of certain equipment, and this needs tending to. The CNA is usually the person who regularly checks up on the patient, which is why they must be able to operate these machines properly. The technological aspect of working with medical machines is not the only component of this job. A CNA is also often asked to work with a computer to be able to track the work that they do. This is also something that CNAs should be proficient with since it is something that is essential to performing the job.

Above these, there are a few more tasks that a CNA is required to fulfill. Some of these are more dependent on the experience that the individual has in this line of work. There are also a few regulations that determine what a CNA can and can’t do, and these differ from state to state. Hospitals or clinics also impose certain restrictions depending on their own needs, which is something that CNAs need to abide by.

Nursing Assistant Educational Qualifications

Because of the work that a nursing assistant must do, there are a few qualifications that they are mandated to have before they can apply to a job of this kind. These qualifications are not the same as a Registered Nurse but tend to be similar in terms of course structure and study.

A CNA doesn’t have to have a Bachelor’s Degree but does need to have some kind of professional degree or training. A postsecondary certificate is also permitted in some states for this kind of a job. The training that a CNA receives usually revolves around the basic work that they have to do while on the job, along with a few topics on medical care. The subject matter of these training courses usually entails a basic coverage of what someone doing a degree to become a Registered Nurse would have to study.


There are several institutions that one can approach when trying to seek this kind of formal training. Community colleges and colleges that offer vocational training courses are usually the best to turn to in these instances. There are also a few specialized training institutions that provide training within this field to those pursuing it. A few hospitals and nursing homes also offer programs wherein CNAs are given hands-on training for this kind of job.

Once an individual has received his or her training, there are a few more steps that they are required to fulfill before they can officially start work as a CNA. Every person looking to get into this line of work must pass a state-mandated exam that is usually monitored by the Board of Nursing of that state. Some states also mandate that a background check must be done before an individual is allowed to give the CNA certification exam. If you think you might be interested in learning how to become a CNA check out the links below.

CNA Job Opportunities

Knowing the opportunities that one can avail of in any field is important. When it comes to being a CNA, there are a number of opportunities that one can opt for, with ample scope for advancement. There are two main kinds of institutions that CNAs are asked to work in, which is nursing facilities and hospitals.

Nursing Homes And Long-Term Care Institutions

One of the biggest places for professional opportunities for a CNA is within nursing homes and similar facilities. As the number of people in need of long-term care increases, the number of jobs available within this sector also goes up. This is an incredibly essential role, and a CNA plays an incredibly large in the care that the aging population is provided. These institutions also prefer having individuals that are looking to work for the long term, which can be great for job stability.

It is important to note that a CNA in these facilities is required to take on a role of a caregiver to the elderly. Because of this, getting attached to one’s patients is something that happens often. One must be strong to be able to perform this job well, but compassionate at the same time to ensure that the elderly feel safe.

Hospitals And Medical Institutions

Hospitals and professional medical institutions are the second blocks in which CNAs can seek job opportunities. In these institutions, a CNA is usually required to work with multiple patients at once and must be able to multitask efficiently. The job in these institutions is slightly different as compared to that in nursing homes, but is still based on the same principles.

Both kinds of jobs entail working irregular hours because of the nature of the medical industry as a whole. Patient care is usually required round the clock, and a CNA is usually the person to provide that care.