Nursing Assistants fall into the Social Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory® Test. This inventory sorts careers into six career Theme Code Categories based on the interest patterns, personal and work preferences of people. Their interests are compared to those that are currently established in certain corresponding careers. It was first released by E. K. Strong Jr. in the aftermath of World War I and has been refined for the better part of a century. Today, the Strong Interest Inventory® Test is generally considered the leading assessment of its type. The Social Theme Category centers on helping or caring for individuals, and includes professions relating to healthcare, teaching, and mentoring. People who score high in this category empathize strongly with others, and are generally positive and outgoing.
Nursing Assistants provide basic patient care at hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities. They typically work under other medical staff, including nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors. They are almost always the first-contact for hospitalized patients, and answer calls or signal lights for service. Once they arrive at the scene, they assess the situation, and perform basic care tasks like repositioning patients, helping them bathe, dress, or use the restroom. They also track patients’ vitals and recovery progress, including their heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. If tests are needed, a Nursing Assistant collects fluid samples, such as urine, blood and saliva. If a patient needs to be prepared for surgery, Nursing Assistants not only assist with the administration of any medications or other provisions, though also transport patients to the operating room.
A Nursing Assistant handles housekeeping-related tasks that affects patients directly. For instance, they may change patients’ bedsheets and linens, change and clean their bedpans, or restock patients’ rooms with personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, and more. In addition to bathing, they may perform other personal grooming tasks, including shaving, washing, or otherwise caring for patients who may be temporarily or permanently unable to care for themselves.
Nursing Assistants typically require minimal experience in software, though scheduling software and medical software, including GE Healthcare Centricity, MEDITECH, and others, are necessary. As with most careers, some familiarity with web browsers and Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, and Outlook) is helpful. Nursing Assistants must be comfortable using dozens of different tools and machines, including needles, oxygen pumps, stethoscopes as well as gurneys, wheelchairs, and crutches.
A Nursing Assistant typically has a high school diploma, but rarely completes any college education. Much of their training occurs on-the-job, and occasionally in vocational classes at local trade schools. They need an understanding of customer and personal service, as well as the ability to communicate comfortably in English with Spanish becoming increasingly important. A background in medicine and dentistry is also helpful as Nursing Assistants are generally the first point of contact for patients when they need assistance at the hospital. Nursing Assistant jobs are also very physically intense, so having strong coordination skills is of the utmost importance. Since they may have dozens of patients at the same time, they also need to be able to pay close attention to detail. Even the smallest mistake can have serious consequences for patients.
Nursing Assistants’ salary nation-wide averages just over $25,000 per year. However, the best-paid Nursing Assistants in California, Florida, and New York can earn nearly twice that, depending on their education, expertise and years of experience. Southern states like Louisiana and Mississippi have median salaries under $20,000 as well as growth rates much lower than the national average. The employment rates for Nursing Assistants is rapidly increasing, with the national projected growth before 2020 being 26.5%. In fast-growing states, such as Colorado and Texas, even Utah and Kentucky, rates are well over 30%. The slowest growth is in New England, and in Alaska.
Below are some employment trends for Nursing Assistants.
- Median Nursing Assistant Salary: $12.36 hourly; $25,710 annually
- Employment: 1,492,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): much faster than average (14% or higher)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 599,000
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org