The Budding Career of a Nursing Assistant
Every so often, a number will catch your eye. For example, if you check the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will notice they predict a 21 percent increase in Nurse Assistant jobs before 2022. The need for this position will escalate at a faster than average pace because of an aging population and changes in health care.
Traffic through doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals is picking up. The boomer generation is growing into all the problems that go with getting old. Most of the problems are not life-threatening, but they accumulate slowly.
In time, they will need help in long-term care, nursing, and hospice facilities. That’s not pessimistic; it’s just realistic. The generation’s aging is complicated by its increasing longevity. This invites chronic problems like geriatric diabetes, progressive lung and heart problems, and Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Needs of Caring
The upside is that it drives the economy. The need for doctors, nurses, technicians, and nursing assistants wearing quality scrubs is real.
Healthcare delivery will grow and reinvent itself. The Affordable Care Act and cuts in Medicare and Medicaid will direct care away from institutions to home and community care options. And, here lies a great future for budding nurse assistants. As growth continues, you can expect expansion in duties and income.
What to Expect
Almost half of nurse assistants work in skilled-nursing facilities while others work in hospitals, residential health care, and home health care. You can expect to work hard:
- cleaning and bathing patients
- assisting patients with toilet and dressing
- turning and lifting patients
- taking vital signs and recording patient health worries
- serving meals and helping patients to eat
Growing into the job, you can be assigned to dispense medications, sterilize equipment, and transport patients about the facility.
Who Makes a Good Hire?
Nurse Assistants work in a medical tradition with ethics, standards, and hierarchy. There is a system of protocols you will learn over time. But, since you also spend more time with patients than the doctors and nurses do, you will develop long lasting personal relationships that contribute to their care and recovery.
- Empathy: Most nursing assistants work with the elderly who often have special needs beyond their illness and injury. The career attracts the most compassionate and empathetic workers, people who are genuine.
- Effective communication skills: Nurse Assistants must address patient, resident, and family concerns with communication skills that empathize with patients and share information with other staff.
- Patience: The routines include feeding, bathing, and cleaning patients. It can be physically and emotionally stressful, but the best candidates have a commitment to healthcare.
- Energy: Nurse Assistants tackle daily physical work lifting, re-positioning, and moving patients. They work on their feet and handle multiple tasks.
Despite the challenges in the work, the most successful career nursing assistants thrive on the challenge because of their commitment.
How to Get There?
You need at least a high school diploma or a GED and on-the-job training. But, you will have an advantage if you finish a state-approved program on the principles of nursing, CPR training, and supervised work in the field.
You will find such programs in high schools, community colleges, and vo-tech schools. But, depending on the state where you live, you may be required to complete an exam to make you a Certified Nursing Assistant. That puts you on a registry with authorization to work in nursing environments.
For those interested in opportunities that can lead to higher earnings, a Master of Science in Nursing degree is becoming an increasingly popular path to pursue. This degree is now offered via several online schools, making it easier than ever to advance your career. An MSN degree will let potential employers know that you have learned excellent management skills, and gained a clear understanding of hospital finance. These factors combined will ensure that you are a top choice in the eyes of any institution or hospital. Best of all, online classes can easily be balanced between any work schedule.
You can expect a criminal background check and some other requirements to meet state board standards. And, as you continue your career and education, you may want to focus on care-specific certifications in geriatrics or pediatrics.
There is potential here, the sort of career people can commit to early on knowing there is growth and opportunity.