If you are wondering “What is a CNA?” A simple answer would be that a CNA, also known as a certified nursing assistant is a person that provides one-on-one non-medical care for the sick, elderly and those rehabilitating from illness or injury. But there is much more to the what is a CNA than this simple answer depicts.

So what is a CNA then? In the following article we will go over the how, why and what that makes up a certified nursing assistant including their role and importance in health care. You will gain a better understanding of what is the CNA job and reasons you should consider training to become one, especially if you would like to start a career in health care. So let’s get started.

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What is a CNA?

If you have ever been in the hospital or visited someone who has, you have probably met a certified nursing assistant. But what is a CNA? A CNA performs duties are to help make patients feel as comfortable as possible. They also serve as the liaison between the patient and the staff. A common thought is that the CNA serves as the “eyes and ears” for the nurses and doctors since the CNA spends more time with the patients.

what is a certified nursing assistantCertified nursing assistants are supervised by either a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Part of what is a CNA duty is to provid3 the extra attention that some patients may need. This is true especially when it comes to basic care to improve the quality of life. Keeping a patient clean, fed, well hydrated and helping them move are all part of the CNA’s job description. These simple things are extremely important for the patient’s well-being and possible recovery.

One major part of the CNA duties is to develop a friendly bond that will hopefully alleviate some of the stress the patient may be feeling. This is mainly done through the close interaction between the CNA and the patient. It is also this familiarity that allows a certified nursing assistant to notice any possible changes to the patient and their condition. Things like speech patterns, changing skin color, and respiration rate are some things that may be key indicators to recovery or other potential issues that need to be reported. The main role of a CNA is to act as an extension of the nursing staff and they are of great importance for the recovery and comfort of the patients left in their charge.

What Does a CNA Do?

While part of what is a CNA duty is to make the patient more comfortable. They also serve as the liaison between the patient and other health care professionals and they do perform a number of duties that can be summed up as basic care. Some of these duties include:

  • Serving meals and helping the patient eat if needed

  • Checking and recording vital signs

  • Assisting the patient to stand up, move or walk

  • Ensuring that the patient’s room and beds are clean

  • Helping the patient change clothes, brush their teeth and comb their hair

  • Record and report any changes

  • Bathing and cleaning of the patients

  • Interact with the patient by talking to them and their family

  • Assist in physical exercise and therapy, as needed

  • Making sure the patient is comfortable

  • Checking and re-positioning the patient to prevent bed sores

  • Taking patients on daily strolls or pushing their wheel chairs

  • Helping with any toileting needs including bedpans and urinals

  • Answering all calls by the patients in a timely fashion

  • Having an awareness of potentially dangerous situations

  • Documentation of all care provided to patients

Which Traits Help with CNA Duties and Responsibilities?

You came to this page trying to figure out what is a CNA and what do they do. We’re not going to lie; the CNA job is not an easy. This definitely isn’t a job for everyone. It does take a certain type of person who really wants to help others rather than someone who is just looking for a paycheck. Don’t get us wrong, this job is extremely rewarding and a great stepping stone of those who want a solid career in areas of healthcare. If you have the following personality traits, you probably have traits that help make up what is a CNA.


A certified nursing assistant needs to be a dependable person. You need to be someone who is going to be there and follow through with requests and orders. It is not hyperbole to say that lives are stake and someone who isn’t really dependable can be troublesome.

Team Player

Medicine is not a “me” sort of job. If you try to do everything yourself or take on too many patients, you risk their lives. The ability to work and cooperate with others, as well gain their trust, will greatly improve the success rate of yourself, your patients and the health care facility.

Following Directions

The role of the CNA is to help in the quality of life of your patients. This does mean that you will need to follow the directions of doctors and nurses who issuing orders for the well-being of the patient. This means, even if you have personal problems with other staff members you need to place that aside and think of the patient first. You can voice your opinions or concerns about orders but you have to do so in a way to not come off as insubordinate or a troublemaker.


You must always remember that you are a professional and accountable for your actions. If you screw up or make a mistake, it is better to own up to it rather than trying to place blame elsewhere. Learn from your mistakes and let your superiors know that you are reliable and take your position seriously. certified nursing assistantAccountability helps you and your partners help prevent further mistakes.


Being a compassionate person and empathetic to the needs and conditions of your patient will always be helpful. Remember, your patients are mostly scared and stressed at their situation so that little bit of extra care and humanity will help ease the nervousness they may feel. Plus, it makes your job a lot easier since you know that you are responsible for their well-being.


It should not come as a surprise that you do need a certain amount of patience as part of the role of a CNA. You spend your day dealing with lots of people especially those who are a bit needy due to their sickness or situation. Plus, you will be doing a lot of routine tasks that can be taxing. As the song goes, you need a little patience.

Communication Skills

One of the biggest skills you can have is the ability to communicate. If you are an introvert helping with people, you probably will not be very successful. Having a good personality and being able to communicate effectively will help both you and the patient. Plus, good communication skills are necessary for passing information and status reports to other staff members.

So, What’s Next?

If you have read through this article and found yourself intrigued with the description of a certified nursing assistant, then you might be wonder what to do next. Here is a little bit more information that may help you make up your mind if you would like to start your CNA training and a new career.

  • The demand for certified nursing assistants are at an all-time high

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 20% increase in new CNA positions over the next decade

  • CNA training can be completed in as little a few weeks and probably no longer than six months

  • You can opt to take certified nursing assistant classes on the internet and receive the same training that will help you get in to the field

  • The position of CNA is one of the highest paid in health care that does not require at least a two year degree

  • Certified nursing assistants can complete specialty certifications to boost wages

  • A growing number of certified nursing assistants use this position as a stepping-stone to other nursing positions such as becoming a registered nurse

  • A CNA can take some extra training to become a home health aide (HHA)

  • The skills you learn as a CNA can be used in other health care related fields

So if you have the aspiration to help others and would like to work in health care, you should consider becoming a certified nursing assistant. It is a very rewarding career, even if you do not get a ton of accolades. Certified nursing assistants are an important part of any health care facility and just by doing the CNA duties, you could be helping save lives. So what is a CNA; a real life saver.

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