Why are Some Positions Referred to as Nurses Aides and Others as Nursing Assistants?

There are few positions that are more demanding and challenging than that of a nurses aide or nursing assistant. However, it is also one of the most rewarding career choices that one can make.  A nurses aide and a nursing assistant are different titles that are given to the same job description.  This person works in a healthcare setting under the direction of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). Both perform the same job functions, though there may be some variance depending on where they work and the state they reside in.  Job responsibilities include basic caregiving including ensuring that a patient’s ADLs (activities of daily living) are met including grooming, dressing, feeding, bathing, and other personal hygiene.  They also are often accountable for making certain that simple vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and pulse are taken and any abnormalities or changes in a patient’s condition are reported to the supervising nurse.  Finally, they are frequently responsible for making sure that a patient is up and out of bed or repositioned as ordered by the physician, bed linens are kept neat and clean, and various other duties as determined by their supervisor.

It should be noted that nurses aides and nursing assistants are also called a certified nursing assistant or CNA depending upon the training the person has received.  The federal government regulates that certain standards be met in order for a person to be given the title of CNA.  The person must attend, and pass, at least 75 hours of coursework in an approved nurse training program.  This includes coursework in a classroom setting and clinicals completed in a healthcare setting.  They must, then, pass a state administered exam that is composed of both written and practical aspects.  Basic CPR and First Aid training are also required.

Overall most places refer to aides or assistants as a CNA if they have obtained the appropriate certification.  However, geographical location also plays a large role in determining whether a person is referred to as a nurses aide or nursing assistant.  Most southern states and those in the western United States use the term nurses aide, while northern states and those in the east use the term nursing assistant.

Where a person is employed also factors in to what title a person is given when performing these job duties.  Nursing homes, hospitals, home health agencies, and hospices are more likely to use the term nurse’s aide because the person is acting more as an aide to the patient.  However, physician’s offices frequently use the label of nursing assistant because the person is most often assisting the nurse with obtaining vital signs, placing patients, in the correct exam rooms, and more along these lines.  It should be noted that nurse’s aides or nursing assistants that are employed in a mental health setting are frequently referred to as a Health Services Tech (HST) or a Mental Health Technician and their job description may vary from that of other nursing assistants or nurses aides.

Overall, a person given the title of CNA has received state mandated training and passed an examination.  However, not all facilities that employ this type of worker require certification.  As a result, the person is often referred to as a nurses aide or nursing assistant.  Regardless of what title a person is given, the job description is essentially the same with minor modifications depending on where they are employed and the state they live in.  Regardless of the title they are given, these positions are often held by hard working and compassionate individuals that are essential in the medical field.

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