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Become a Hospital Assistant: Employment Info

Discover what education and training hospital assistants need. Learn about job duties, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Hospital Assistant

Hospital assistants and hospital aides help care for patients under the supervision of nurses, medical assistants and doctors. They are involved in patients' day-to-day activities, such as eating, walking and bathing. Hospital assistants and aides are also usually responsible for housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning rooms, making beds and delivering food and supplies. Working in a hospital setting might also require taking patients' temperatures and blood pressures.

Education No formal requirement, but programs in nursing assisting at a vocational school or community college are highly recommended
Job Skills Good physical condition, ability to take direction, compassion
Mean Salary (May 2015)* $27,820 (for nursing assistants in hospitals)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 17% (Nursing assistants and orderlies)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Hospital assistant and hospital aide positions generally do not have formal education requirements. However, prospective hospital assistants and aides must demonstrate certain skills, and they can gain those skills through nurse assisting programs at vocational schools and community colleges. Specific classes that prepare hospital aides and assistants for their careers include anatomy, nutrition, physiology and disease control. Students are also taught how to communicate with patients, protect the privacy and rights of patients and help patients with their activities.

Skills Required

Hospital aides and hospital assistants generally must be in good physical condition in order to work on their feet most of the day, lift patients and supplies and perform repetitive tasks. The field requires the ability to take direction from a team of nurses, doctors and other staff. A successful hospital aide or hospital assistant has a compassionate character.

Career and Economic Outlook

Hospital assistant and hospital aide positions are expected to grow rapidly as the population ages and as medical advances extend the lives of chronically ill patients. Hospital assistants and aides have the opportunity for advancement in the career of nursing and medical assisting after completing additional coursework and training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the annual mean wage for a nursing assistant or orderly in a local, state or private hospital was $27,820 as of May 2015. In the top-paying states of New York, Alaska, Hawaii, District of Columbia, and Connecticut, nursing assistants earned between $31,890 and $37,300 per year. The BLS predicted employment for nursing assistants and orderlies would increase by 17%, faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024.

Alternative Careers

Here are a couple of additional job options related to a hospital assistant career:

Licensed Practical Nurse

For those interested in performing some basic nursing care duties, becoming a licensed practical nurse may be the right option. Licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, might assist patients with dressing and bathing activities, in addition to monitoring vital signs, changing wound dressings, updating medical records and answering patient questions. Some states even allow LPNs to set up IVs and administer drugs.

To work as a licensed practical nurse, completion of a nursing certificate or postsecondary diploma is required, and all LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nursing before qualifying for state licensure. The BLS projects a 16% increase in job opportunities for licensed practical and vocational nurses between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, these nurses earned a median salary of $43,170, based on BLS estimates.

Medical Assistant

If caring for patients in a physician's office and helping with clerical tasks seem like a good job, consider a career in medical assisting. Some of a medical assistant's responsibilities include setting up patients in rooms, sterilizing equipment, collecting samples for lab analysis, helping doctors with exams, giving shots and scheduling patients.

If an employer offers on-the-job training, a high school diploma may be sufficient, but many medical assistants complete a certificate program offered at a community college, vocational or technical school. According to the BLS, about 591,300 medical assistants worked in the U.S. in 2015 and received a median wage of $30,590. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 23% during the 2014-2024 decade.

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