CNA Responsibilities

Before you pursue a career as a certified nursing assistant, it’s important to know what this type of professional is responsible for. The on the job CNA responsibilities define what the position is all about. They make clear where the purview of the nurses and doctors stop and those of the assistant begin. A medical team cannot really exist without the round the clock vigilance and care that CNAs provide.

Nursing assistants are, essentially, the eyes and the ears of a medical practice. It is they that are in the most contact in an ongoing sense with the patients. It could be said, then, that one of the primary CNA responsibilities is to monitor their assigned patients and be alert for any changes in their condition. If such a change does occur or a need arises on the part of the patient, it is the assistant’s responsibility to either respond to the change or need, or in more extreme cases, summon a nurse or doctor. The latter would include not only medical emergencies but also situations in which care needs to be performed for which a CNA is not qualified. Often the patient’s condition is logged – so recordkeeping with regard to the patient is also a primary CNA responsibility.

Aside from this, a CNA is responsible for the routine care and assistance of the patient. This includes virtually all of the daily activities that one might imagine. It can be broken down into some rough categories, mentioned below:

Comfort of patient

A CNA is responsible for seeing to the simple comfort needs of a patient. A patient may need to be moved in bed, brought a blanket if they are cold, have a blanket removed if they are hot, and so on.


Patients often need help walking or being maneuvered into wheelchairs. CNAs are the first person they turn to for assistance in getting around. For this reason it is important that CNA be physically strong enough to support someone who can’t put all their weight on their feet, or at least strong enough to do so in partnership with another CNA.

Patient Meals

The CNA serves meals to patients. This can involve more than simply putting a tray in front of them, as some patients may actually need to be spoon fed or helped into positions where eating is easier. They also must clean up when the patient is finished eating.

Hygiene of patient

This involves not only keeping the patient clean by administering showers or baths, but also assisting the patient to brush their teeth and so on. The other side to this is room upkeep – nursing assistants perform duties such as changing sheets and general housekeeping.


The CNA helps patients to the bathroom, empties bedpans and catheter bags, and so on. This is one of the less glamorous sides to the job, but somebody has to do it, and that somebody is the CNA.

Limited Emergency Care When Necessary

Often CNAs are trained in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and are expected to implement this in emergency situations when a patient’s life may depend on their swift action and there isn’t time to immediately call in a nurse or doctor. Most of the time this will not be necessary since there are advanced emergency signaling systems in hospitals, and such life threatening incidents are not usually daily occurrences. But in those cases where it is, the CNA must have a good handle on CPR and emergency procedures for calling in help.

Being a responsible nursing assistant starts with knowing what the CAN responsibilities are. Having a firm grasp on this will insure that you do the best job possible for your patients and get the respect you deserve as a medical professional.