The CNA Job Description and Duties

The CNA job description and responsibilities comes under the three C’s: Care, Comfort, and Communication. By performing routine care, providing for the comfort of the patient, and communicating according to protocol, the CNA acts as a key link in the healthcare team.


No matter what facility or department a certified nurse aide works in, there is an indispensable routine of tasks to be performed. Although these things can seem simple and repetitious at times, they are essential to the well-being of patients and their treatment.

The routines vary from facility to facility and from department to department, but they are comprised of largely the same tasks:

  • Taking vitals (blood-pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiration). Taking the patient’s vitals can range from taking them once a shift on a Rehab floor, to three times a shift on a Telemetry floor, to every 15 minutes post-operatively on a surgical patient according to protocol (established procedures).
  • Measuring statistics. Recording intake and output, height, and weigh.
  • Obtaining routine lab samples not requiring laboratory personnel.
  • Helping patients with ADLs (activities of daily living) for which they need assistance, such as bathing, combing hair, brushing teeth, shaving, putting on stockings and/or slippers, dressing, ambulation, and toileting.
  • Helping patients with equipment for their treatment such as anti-embolism stockings, bladder scanner, intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices, etc. as well as helping patients to move, transfer from bed to chair, or transporting them to other departments for testing or treatment.
  • Infection control. Every medical employee is responsible for infection control, but because of the constant contact the CNA has with patients, it is critical for the CNA to know and follow proper protocol in avoiding the spread of germs and spores which transport disease.
  • Observation and reporting. Observing the patient and surroundings assists the nurse to assess the progress of the patient as well as any needs the patient might have for medical intervention. The certified nursing assistant will also observe and remove any potential hazards which could cause accidents.


Some tasks cross boundaries between care and comfort. Ensuring that the patient is comfortable is also ensuring they are properly cared for. This includes such tasks as keeping the bed dry and comfortable, ensuring the patient’s tray table and call mechanism is within reach; asking them if there is anything they need, whether they are too cool or too warm, and assessing the patient’s privacy needs and tending to them in the appropriate manner.

Empathy is an important trait of the nursing assistant. The certified nursing Aide must be able to imagine his or herself in the patient’s position and to consider what would make the patient more comfortable.


Communication among the healthcare team, of which the nurse aide is a vital part, is critical. Timely and precise communication is a key element in avoiding errors in patient treatment. The nursing aide will be trained in documentation, in observation, and in reporting, both to the nurse as well as to one’s replacement at shift change, or one’s end-of-shift report.