Inside Nurse Assistant Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Great Starting Pay...
I was surprised at the good starting out rate of pay. I was surprised at how depressing the profession is when dealing with the geriatric population." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

Career: , currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Nurse Assisting at Erie Business Center in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"Female World? Not After I'm Done With It...
what has surprised me most about my profession of choice is most nursing assistants are female in the doctor office world. I want to get some good experience working with doctors and then move into maybe a hospice nurse, also a female world." (Certified Nurses Aide; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Healthcare at Lane Community College in Oregon; completed Associate degree in 2010

"Non Medical Issues...
I was surprised to learn how much common sense was needed in being a CNA. The education I received was great, but you don't really get taught how to deal with the emotions, or the family issues some patients have." (CNA; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied CNA at Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2012

"I was surprised to find that being a CNA requires a lot of work and being able to work with your co-workers. What you learn in the books is not what really goes on at work, I had to learn as I went, each hospital has their own rules and task for the nurses assistant. Working as an assistant means working with more than just patients; you have charting to do, patients to bathe, and anything else that is assigned to you. You have to really love working with patients to handle the job." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

Career: 18 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Nursing Assisting And Substance Abuse Rehab. at Macon State College in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 1990

"Working Well With Others Is A Must In This Line Of Work...
I was surprised to find that being a home care CNA results in a lot of down time during the shift. I was surprised to find that working independently on a shift still entails me to work together with my co workers by completing shared tasks." (Private Duty, Home Care; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Rhode Island, female
School: Studied Nursing Assistant at Community College Of Rhode Island. in Rhode Island; completed Certificate degree in 2003

"Difficult To Work With People These Days...
I was surprised to find that patients are not taken care of like they are supposed to be. When reporting to those above you, all you get is maybe 2 or 3 days of results, then back to the old way." (Certified Nurse Tech; 2013)

Career: 22 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Nurse Assisting; completed Certificate degree in 1999

"Very Rewarding Career Choice...
I knew nursing would be a rewarding career choice, I just didn't fully know just how rewarding until you see just how much of a positive impact u can make on one life." (Nurse/Dr Assistant; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, female
School: Studied Medical Assistant/ Nursing Assistant at Metro Business College in Missouri; completed Diploma degree in 2009

"Teamwork And Time Management...
I was very surprised about how fast the nurses and doctors work to figure out the main source of the diagnosis. While learning about this, I was able to work more closely with the patients and providing reports to the nurses and doctors so that they can help restore the patient's care back to normal." (Patient Care Tech; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Nurse Assisting at Dorsey Schools in Michigan; completed Diploma degree in 2012

"Great Learning And Knowledge...
The nursing program at this institution provides great extent to what you need to learn in order to accomplish the types of nursing jobs you want. That program provides first hand experience and teaches everything you need to know such as medical terms, specific procedures in handling patients and laws you must abide." (Certified Nursing Assistant; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Nursing at Fresno State University in California; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"Residents Become Like Family...
I was surprised by how many people I am responsible for in a nursing home. With one other aide I take care of 24 people, and it can get extremely hectic, especially when I have to work short staffed. I was also surprised by how normal everything became once I started doing it. All the residents became like family to me and cleaning them up became second nature and doesn't seem gross at all. Just like changing a babies' diaper is no big deal to a mom, giving showers and changing residents is no big deal to an aide (most of the time)." (CNA; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Nurse Assisting at Miami Valley CTC in Ohio; completed Certificate degree in 2011

"Hands On Experience Is Key...
When I first started as a nursing assistant it was completely overwhelming. I was not totally prepared to be caring for people - it is completely different from when we were training. As I continued with my job many people from my class quit, but I stuck with it and have come to enjoy my job." (Certified Nursing Assistant; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Nursing Assistant at Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2003

"Emotionally Rewarding"...
I was surprised that being a nurses assistant is very emotionally rewarding and I often think of the people I take care of has family. I was also surprised that being a nurses assistant is vital in a medical facility because we are the eyes and ears for the nurses." (CNA; 2013)

Career: 13 years of experience, female
School: Studied Nurse Assistant at Genesis Elder Care in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2000

"Satisfying And Purposeful Career...
I work in a nursing facility. What surprised me most was how much I enjoyed working with the elderly. It is extremely fulfilling and purposeful. At the end of the night I felt extremely exhausted because the job is very physical, but at the same time I knew that what I had done had meant a great deal for many of the residents. I truly love my job." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Connecticut, female
School: Studied Nursing Assisting at Asnuntuck Community College in Connecticut; completed Certificate degree in 2009

"My job as a CNA never ceases to surprise me. Working as a CNA, I had no idea how much I would learn, and just how far the career could take me." (CNA; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, female
School: Studied Nurse Assisting at Missouri State University in Missouri; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Important Skills Are Not All Learned In Classes...
I was surprised to find out just how much I did NOT know once I actually went out onto the floor on my own. The classes prepare you to an extent, but you encounter situations on the floor that they don't tell you about in class... like the family member who is angry and feels guilty that their mother had to be placed in a nursing home and wants to take it all out on you. You cannot learn compassion, empathy, and consideration in classes... it is a quality you MUST possess before you go into this field." (STNA; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Nurse Assisting at Autumn Hills Care Center in Ohio; completed Certificate degree in 2002

"It's A Customer Service Job Too...
I found it extremely interesting that nursing requires more customer service work than one would expect. Also, most of the time the nurses and nursing assistants get to do more of the "doctor" type jobs than the actual doctor does!" (Nursing Assistant; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Nursing at Reading Area Community College in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree in 2012

"More Challenging...
I was surprised how difficult the job was. I thought I would be healing patients but it's way more technical. Learning protocols and procedures for different situations. Proper paperwork and channels to go through for everything is a learning curve." (Nurse Aide; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Nursing at Drexel University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Cna: "The best part of my job is that I get a chance to make a difference in somebody's life. Making it possible for them to be comfortable at their own house instead of ending up in an impersonal situation at a hospital or anything like that. You get to be there to comfort family and it is easy to make those people see that there are still people out there that care." (2011)

Nursing Assistant: "The absolute best part of my career is the fact that I get to make a difference in the lives of those I care for. A lot of these people are simply ignored by their families, and we, as the caregivers, are the only family they have. This is what makes it really nice for them, and for us. We get paid, sure. It's a career. But it's also a way of life. The worst part of the job is the constant head-bucking you get from administration. They seem to make the decisions on how we should conduct our care, but have no idea what hands-on care is all about, making it difficult for them to gauge. Our company's slogan is "What Matter's Most..." To us, that means the residents. To administration, it seems more that it means the bottom-line profit. This is the sad state of most medical facilities these days." (2011)

Career Background

Nurse Assistant

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Rich And Wealthy, Probably Not. Satisfied Heart And Soul For Sure...
If nursing is going to be your career choice it has to come from your heart, you wont be rich or even wealthy, but your life will be satisfied and content." (Certified Nurses Aide; 2014)

"Health Field Changes Quickly...
If you want to be a successful nursing assistant in the health field, you should start out in a nursing program that is 8-12 months depending on the offer, and take it from there. Allow time to study and seek help from the instructors as much as possible because that will definitely help you in the long run." (Certified Nursing Assistant; 2014)

"A Rewarding But Demanding Career...
Do not go into this field if you want a job that comes with a lot of praise, tons of appreciation, and pats on the back. You also might want to walk away if you think you are just going to do it for the paycheck. Being a nursing assistant is rewarding in it's own way, but you are doing grunt work for a meager paycheck. If however you want to make a difference to people, do a job that matters, and make people's lives just a little better, this is a good job fit for you!" (STNA; 2013)

"Furthering Your Career...
Being a CNA is a good profession, but I would recommend furthering your career as a nurse, which is what I am doing." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

"Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help...
The most important thing is to ask for help when you become overwhelmed. Most people in our line of work do this because they enjoy helping others, and this includes other staff that may be having trouble adjusting." (Certified Nursing Assistant; 2013)

"Know Your Patients, Learn Their Needs, And Take Pride In Your Work...
You can make a good living at this career. Do you best to follow all the techniques you learn while in school and put them to good use. Work hard and do your best and please have a heart for your patients." (Certified Nurse Tech; 2013)

"Comfort We Give The Ones We Care For...
Becoming a nursing assistant is physically and emotionally demanding but it is worth the hard work because of the lasting relationships and comfort we give to the ones we care for." (CNA; 2013)

"Must Be A Genuinely Kind Person...
You can learn a lot about others in this profession. You must be a hard worker, goal oriented, and above all compassionate to be in this line of work." (Private Duty, Home Care; 2013)

"It's All Worth It...
Chose a community college or tech school, so if you ever chose to further your education your credits will count, stay away from technical schools that only offer a diploma and no degree. It can be quit the culture shock getting your self into nursing just remember at the end of the day it's all worth it just to see your patient/client/resident smile." (Nurse/Dr Assistant; 2013)

"How To Work Together...
Paying attention to details is really needed in this profession which helps me focus more of what is inside the box rather than thinking outside the box. Also, when nurses and doctors see that you can use your problem solving skills, they rely on you more which can build up your confidence and provide a strong background as to working as a team." (Patient Care Tech; 2013)

"Achieving And Maintaining CNA Certification...
Most states require a state test to achieve certification, so its absolutely necessary to learn the material. Being a CNA also means constantly learning new methods and policy to keep your certification." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

"Nursing Home Job...
If you can find a position in a nursing home, take it. Nursing home residents are so much easier to deal with than hospital patients are." (CNA; 2013)

"For Love Not Money...
Avoid becoming a nurse aide for the money. You don't make that much and if you don't truly care about the residents you will make a lousy aide. If you truly love taking care of people, this is a great career for you. The first month or so you will build up quite a bit of muscle and be achy, but it gets easier with time." (CNA; 2013)

"Education For Advancement...
Study more, to get a higher certificate or diploma so you don't regret having a low level job." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

"Must Be Willing To Take Direction...
Tip 1: Make sure you really want to work with patients; and you are willing to take orders from others. Tip 2: You really need the education and work hard at it to remember it. If you don't you won't be pleased with your job." (Nurse Assistant; 2013)

"Accept The Job Your Qualified For...
Don't settle for a lower job when you feel you deserve better. Do your research, and when you find a job you like, focus in on them and do your best to explain how you can make their company better." (CNA; 2013)

"Becoming An RN Or LPN Might Be Better...
If you want a career in healthcare, you should shoot to be an RN or LPN if only because you can make more of a difference and the work of a CNA usually ends up highly underrated. Additionally, it is both a physically and emotionally difficult job. If you still decide to go for a career as a CNA, just make sure to be careful for which company you end up working. Getting the certificate really isn't that much of a problem." (Cna; 2011)

"Volunteer At A Nursing Home...
The advice I would offer to those who want to pursue a career in the medical field, especially geriatrics, is to know what you're dealing with first! Volunteer at a local nursing home and actually see what you'll be doing for a living. Some people enter this job with the thoughts that it's like what you see on TV, and all you'll be doing is listening to "grandma" talk about yesteryear and placing a sweater over her shoulders... it's not this way. You have combative residents that have severe physical disabilities and have the potential to injure you. Weigh this carefully! Another bit of advice is to not work for a for-profit company. Look for a nice non-profit nursing home. These usually offer better pay and better benefits because they can't show a bottom line of profit at the end of the year. Thirdly, don't pay for your education yourself. Simply apply at nursing homes that offer paid training. This is where you will work on-the-job, and they pay you to do so. Then, they pay for your testing. This is a great deal in this day-and-age!" (Nursing Assistant; 2011)