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Nurse Aide: Definition & Duties

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Nurse aides are a valuable asset to the care of patients in many different settings. In this lesson, we will learn about the duties of a nurse aide and how to become one.

A Day in the Nursing Home

Nancy starts her day early at six in the morning before the sun is up. As she turns the lights on, she sees the rooms lining the halls of the nursing home. She is responsible for twenty residents of the nursing home during her shift.

She knows Hazel likes to get up early, so she enters her room first. She opens her blinds and tells her good morning. She assists her to the toilet and then proceeds to help her get dressed for the day. She takes her to the sink and washes her face and hands and helps her to brush her teeth. Nancy then pushes Hazel in her wheelchair down to the dining room and gets her a cup of coffee to drink while she waits for breakfast. Nancy then moves on to the next resident.

This is the basic routine of Nancy's shift. After breakfast, she will help all the residents out of the dining room. Some will be toileted and lie down for a nap and others will participate in activities. Then the same sequence will resume for lunch. Nancy is well-liked by her residents. By the nature of her work, she spends more time with the residents than physicians, nurses, and sometimes even family.

Duties of a Nurse Aide

Nancy is a nurse aide, and she provides direct care to patients in all different settings. The nurse aide is essential in providing daily routine cares called activities of daily living (ADL). ADLs include bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, and assisting with mobility.

Nurse aide
nurse aide

The nurse aide works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN). As we mentioned earlier, the nurse aide has the most direct contact with the patients, and the RN relies on the nurse aide to report any and all data and concerns.

The nursing home is only one setting in which nurse aides are utilized. They are also seen in the hospital setting, home care, and even doctor's offices. ADL assistance is the largest part of the nurse aide's role, but they can also collect other data for nurses. They can obtain vital signs which include measuring blood pressure, pulse, respirations, and temperature. They can weigh patients and measure intake and output.

Nurse aides are not able to prescribe or administer medications. They are not able to do nursing procedures such as catheters. They also do not diagnose patients or share assumptions based on medical tests. They are not able to perform assessments, but rather they collect information and data and provide that back to the nurse to be utilized in their assessment of the patient.

How to Become a Nurse Aide

The healthcare field has many job opportunities for nurse aides. This is a great career choice that is in high demand. It is also a great opportunity to find out if the healthcare field is right for you. Many people start as a nurse aide and move on in their education to become a nurse. I've heard many people in healthcare say the best nurses began as nurse aides.

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