The CNA Scope of Practice

The CNA’s scope of practice refers to the tasks within his or her certified skill set. It is important to know one’s scope of practice as defined by one’s State Board of Nursing in order to protect him or herself, the patient, and the nurse. The scope of practice does not imply that one does not know how to perform certain tasks normally relegated to the nurse or other medical personnel, rather that the CNA is permitted to perform certain tasks as defined by the CNA’s state licensure.

The scope of practice protects the patient, the CNA, the nurse and the employer. It protects the patient from the possible errors of a well-meaning, but misdirected CNA. Because the CNA performs his or her job under the license of the RN to which one is assigned, remaining within the scope of practice keeps the nurse’s liability at a manageable level, as well as protecting the CNA from being asked to perform a task beyond his or her certifications. These measures also protect the CNA’s employer from certain liabilities.

It is the responsibility of the CNA to know what is or is not within his or her scope of practice by the state and by the employer. A CNA can not be faulted for not acting outside his or her scope of practice, even if the action was requested by a superior.

The scope of practice for the CNA is defined by each state’s Board of Nursing. The state scope of practice can be narrowed further by a specific healthcare facility. For instance, in one facility, inserting a urinary catheter may be considered within the scope of practice of the CNA while another facility may consider it to be only within the scope of practice of an RN or LPN. The CNA should be given the policies and scope of practice by the employer; however, if it is not given, the CNA has the right to request it.