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Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant

Becoming a nurse assistant or a patient care assistant requires less than a year of formal training beyond high school and can lead to several career opportunities. Keep reading to explore education and career options in this field.

Inside Nurse and Patient Care Assistant Careers

Nurse assistants and patient care assistants, also called nurse aides, work alongside physicians and nurses to provide basic health care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they deliver messages, serve meals, clean rooms, make beds, take a patient's pulse or blood pressure, give routine medications or take patients for treatments or tests ( They may also dress, groom and bathe patients.

The BLS states that nurse assistants should be physically healthy, emotionally stable, dependable, patient, tactful, understanding and interested in helping people. They also should have good communication skills and be able to work as part of a team. If you feel this field may be a good fit for your career goals, check out the following resources from to learn more.

Education Information

To become a nurse assistant, students can complete a certificate that takes as little as a semester or as much as a year to complete. The program includes a variety of lectures, labs and clinical practicums. Courses address legal issues, death and dying, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, medical ethics, the role of the nurse assistant, nursing theory, controlling infection and taking vital signs. Rotations provide practical experience working with patients in a hospital, nursing home or doctor's office so students become familiar with the pace and learn the procedures. Graduates should be able to help nurses develop a nutrition plan for patients, provide daily care to patients and handle emergencies. The articles below include information about the individual courses and degree programs that can prepare you for a career as a nurse assistant or a patient care assistant.

Distance Learning Options

Distance learning courses and programs are available for aspiring nurse assistants. Visit the following links to learn more about what these online options entail.

Career Options

Learn about the job responsibilities, employment outlook and salary requirements for the following careers in nurse and patient care assistance.

Certification Information

To work as a nurse's assistant, you must have a license or a certification to practice. State requirements vary, but typically include completing an approved education program and passing an exam. Background checks may also be required. Those seeking to work in nursing homes must be listed on their state's registry after gaining licensure or certification. Find out more about credentialing in this field by visiting the following links.

Specialization Options

As a nurse assistant, you can work in many different places. These articles identify some of the specializations available.

Employment Information

The BLS projects that employment of nursing assistants will increase 21% in the 2012-2022 decade, which is faster than average. The healthcare needs of the nation's large elderly population plays a major role in the demand for these workers. As of May 2013, nursing assistants earned a mean annual wage of $26,020. The top employers at this time were nursing care facilities, general hospitals, and retirement or assisted living facilities for the elderly.

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