You’ve may have been searching the internet for a good CNA job description and keep running in to generic phrases such as “basic health care” but that doesn’t really answer your question. You are looking for something more in depth that can give you a better understanding of what is a certified nursing assistant. Good news for you, we have just a list of duties and responsibilities that fit under the CNA job description. This can be really important information especially if you are considering enrolling in a CNA training program.

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Some things you need to know first. In order to become a certified nursing assistant, you will need to pass your state’s certification exam after completing an accredited CNA classes either in at traditional campus or online. Once you have passed your certification exam, you will become listed in the Nurses Aide Registry. Believe it or not, you can go from training certification to a CNA job in six months or less.

A Quick Note About the Certified Nursing Assistant Job Description

While we do provide a fairly comprehensive CNA job description, it should be mentioned that the duties may be slightly different depending on where one works. The fundamental skills one will learn in their training program will fit in with most CNA job description found anywhere.

The Ultimate CNA Job Description

The following is a list of the typical CNA job description. It will be separated in to three distinct areas of care: patient care, observation and documentation :

Patient Care

One of the main parts of the CNA job description is to provide 24/7 patient care. Even though the area of patient care is the responsibility of everyone on the medical team, the duties performed by a certified nursing assistant are bit more personal and more inclusive. A good examples of certain duties that falls under the CNA job description for this category includes :

  • Housekeeping: keeping the patient’s bed and area clean and tidy

  • Toileting: placing bedpans or helping support a patient to the bathroom as well as emptying catheters when necessary

  • Hygiene: bathing, combing hair, brushing teeth, shaving, nail care, changing of clothes, etc…

  • Feeding: helping feed and hydrate the patient

  • Positioning: turning or positioning patient to help prevent bed sores

  • Wound care: cleaning and dressing of wounds

  • Pre-surgery: providing help to nurses as patients are being prepped for surgery

  • Bedding: changing of linen and sheets to prevent infections

  • Exercise: helping patients exercise per orders of the doctor or therapist

  • Mental support: providing emotional support for patients and their families

  • Visitation: regulating the number of visitors and length of visits

  • Movement: helping patients get out of bed, sit up, walk or get in to wheel chair

  • Equipment care: cleaning and sterilization of equipment after use

  • Dressings: changing of older dressings to sterile dressing

  • Socialization: taking patient on trips around the facility, outside or in the case of nursing homes or long term care facilities on a field trip

  • Transport: help transport patient to testing, surgery or therapy

  • Cleanliness: maintaining a clean and disinfected area to avoid infections

  • Helping hand: provide any assistance to the patient as needed

  • Communication: chatting with patient helping them feel more at ease

  • Messages: give the patient a message if they ask for it or it is ordered

  • Following directions: make sure all orders are followed

  • Being dependable: answering all call lights as soon as possible

  • Equipment usage: assisting and watching over the use of equipment

  • Safety: removing any potentially dangerous items or hazards from the area

  • Comforting: keeping the patient comfortable at all times

Patient Observation

As the name implies, one of the important duties listed as in the CNA job description is that of keeping an eye on any changes the patient may have. This responsibility includes both monitoring equipment as well as noticeable changes of the patient. The following are prime example of responsibilities that fall under the CNA job description which includes :

  • Vitals: checking and recording of vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, etc…

  • Monitor: watching the signals from any equipment used

  • Physical changes: looking for any physical changes in the patient such skin color, infection, etc…

  • Speech patterns: talking with patient and listening to any perceivable changes such as slurring of words, etc…

  • Listening: asking the patient how they feel, any complaints, pains etc…

  • Noticing: watching patient for any changes in routine, outlook, mental state, etc…

  • Observing: Any changes or behavior from those recorded on previous shifts

  • Dietary intake: keeping track of all food and drink take in by patient

  • Toilet changes: tracking any changes in bowel movements or urinations including the amount, texture and color

  • Infection control: keep a sharp outlook for any signs of infection

  • Measurements: measuring height and weight

  • Lab samples: obtaining samples for lab work when directed

  • Anticipation: trying to be proactive when you see the patient may be uncomfortable


Keeping records and documenting any changes is a vital part of a CNA job description. Not only does it provide a record of how the patient is doing, but it also allows other medical staff an up to date report on any progress. Keeping records and documentation is an important facet of the CNA job description which includes:

  • Patient records: tracking and recording vital signs and any changes the patient may have experienced during the shift

  • Recording: keep records of food and drink intake as well as bowel movements and urination

  • Reporting: letting supervisors know of any issues or potential issues the patient may be experiencing

  • Monitoring: recording all data from equipment and observations

  • Tracking: keeping an accurate list of all medications administered

  • Documenting: reporting any accidents or errors that may affect the patient

Different Places to Find CNA Jobs

A great thing about being a certified nursing assistant is the abundance of different health care facilities or agencies that you can find employment. Some of these places may require some extra training and certification but the basics of the CNA job description is still the same. Some of the most common places you can find work as a CNA are found in the following chart.

CNA Work Environments

While the CNA job description at these places may be slightly different, the goal of providing the best personal care and comfort for the patients is still the same.

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