Nursing Aide

A nursing aide’s role consists in providing basic care to patients under the direction of qualified nursing staff. A nursing aide or assistant is different from home health aides, orderlies, personal care aides and psychiatric aides. Nursing aides are supervised in their work by registered nurses or licensed practical nurses.

Job Overview

These responsibilities can vary with the workplace. The settings in which a nursing aide can work are nursing homes, hospitals, day care centers for adults, personal homes and assisted living facilities. The majority of nursing aides, orderlies and attendants are employed in nursing and residential care facilities.

In many occasions, the aide is the eyes and ears for the nurses and serves as an intermediary between patients and nurses. Basic quality-of-life needs must be assisted for patients of various ages in residential nursing care facilities or outpatient clinics. Here are some duties nursing aides have:

  • Having daily contact with the patients, they gather information about the changing condition of the patients. This information is then transmitted to supervisors.
  • They administer medication or treatment to patients. They can administer catheterizations, suppositories, irrigations, massages, enemas or douches. All these are done under the direction of the physician or the nurse.
  • They clean patient rooms, bathrooms and examination rooms, making sure the patient areas are sanitized.
  • They document patient behavior, symptoms and complaints. Observations are reported to nurses.
  • They apply clean dressings, bandages, slings under the direction of the nurse or of the physician.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers figures for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants grouped together. The figures for 2010 show that, for these jobs, the median annual wage was $24,010. The median wage is defined by a figure compared with which half the workers earned less and the other half earned more than that amount. For the same year, the lowest 10 percent earned below the sum of $17,990 and the top 10 percent earned more than the figure of $34,580.


Training for becoming a nursing aide is provided by the Red Cross, community colleges, medical facilities and online schools. A training program can take from four to six weeks. There are clinics that hire personnel that is untrained and inexperienced, being willing to provide on-the-job training. These are rare opportunities however. Generally speaking, in order to become a qualified nursing aide, one must pass an exam. Theoretical knowledge and practical skills are both tested.

The costs for training programs vary, but financial assistance might be offered by the federal government, military or hospitals.

Reviews & Advice

Given the work with people who suffer from various health problems, a nursing aide must be able to work at a face-pace, with compassion and responsibility. This is a job for those who wish to help people and participate in their symptom alleviation and healing. Good communication skills are very important, so that information is properly taken forth from patients to nurses and so that patients actually feel cared for.

Job opportunities for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants that have formal training completed are best in long-term care facilities. Because all these jobs involve much emotional and physical stress, many of the attendants leave these professions after a while, unfortunately. They usually move forward to training for other healthcare positions or other jobs. Thus, new nursing aides positions are usually available for other seekers, so, if you think you are fit for such a job, you should not have problems finding a place to work in.

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