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Oswego Career Ladders - Nursing Assistant

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Nursing Assistant

Industry: Healthcare
Area: Nursing and Direct Patient Care

Nursing assistants perform routine tasks under the supervision of nursing and medical staff. They answer patients call lights; deliver messages; serve meals; make beds; and help patients to eat, dress, and bathe. Assistants also may provide skin care to patients; take their temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure; and help them to get into and out of bed and walk. They also may escort patients to operating and examining rooms, keep patients rooms neat, set up equipment, store and move supplies, and assist with some procedures. Nursing assistants observe patients physical, mental, and emotional conditions and report any change to the nursing or medical staff.

Work Settings

Nursing assistants spend many hours standing and walking, and they often face heavy workloads. They must guard against back injury because they may have to move patients into and out of bed or help them to stand or walk. They may also face hazards from minor infections and major diseases, such as hepatitis, but can avoid infections by following proper procedures. Assistants often have unpleasant duties, such as emptying bedpans and changing soiled bed linens. The patients they care for may be disoriented, irritable, or uncooperative.


In many cases, a high school diploma or equivalent is necessary for a job as a nursing assistant.

Job Outlook

Numerous job openings for nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides will arise from a combination of fast employment growth and high replacement needs.


General medical and surgical hospitals - $10.44/hour Nursing care facilities - $9.86/hour Community care facilities for the elderly - 9.56

Work Schedule

Most full-time assistants work about 40 hours a week, but, because patients need care 24 hours a day, some assistants work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Many work part time. In 2004, 25 percent of aides worked part time compared with 16 percent of all workers.

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