There are several job titles that fall within the Nursing Assistant career field, and depending on the amount of training, education, experience and licensure, they are employed in a variety of settings. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
work in hospitals, patients homes as Home Health Aides, or in our Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes helping to care for the elderly. They are “certified” by the State Board of Nursing after completing required approved training and passing an examination. Home Health Aides
Provide in-home daily living assistance services and healthcare services for those unable to fully care for themselves, yet who prefer to remain in their own residence. Often times, patients who have been discharged from a hospital require additional rehabilitation, or may have to utilize special medical equipment in a home setting. Homemaker Companions
maintain a therapeutic, supportive environment for the home care client by helping them follow their care plan, and by assisting them with daily needs. Patient Care Assistants (PCAs)
work in some hospitals assisting the clinical nursing staff. They work closely with and under direction of a RN (Registered Nurse) and help provide direct patient care and help to monitor their condition. Nursing Care Partner (NCP)
is a position that is unique to Sentara. After receiving training in a special program offered through the Sentara School of Health Professions, Care Partners provide basic nursing skills as well as more difficult procedures necessary in an acute care hospital setting. They work under the supervision of Registered Nurses to help care for patients and assist them with daily living activities. They are also trained to draw blood specimens, perform dressing changes, and to use some of the hospital’s specialized equipment.
In order to better understand how these jobs differ it is necessary to understand more about the settings in which people are employed in these positions.
Since our hospitals provide the most acute levels of care, including emergency services, the more skilled and experienced nursing assistants are employed in those areas. Within our hospitals, there are many areas where nursing assistants can be employed. A review of currently available job openings, accessed through this section, can show you what kinds of opportunities might be currently available.
Nursing Assistants are also employed in our Lifecare/Long Term Nursing facilities. Sentara’s new Senior Community Care program in particular offers rewarding opportunities. In this program, our Senior Care Centers offer many services such as medical care, daily health related activities, physical, occupational and speech therapy, and nutritional and personal care. Meals, recreational activities and social activities are all provided for our seniors, and the support staff in these facilities enjoys the benefit of interacting closely with program participants.
The assisted living concept created in Sentara Villages helps seniors get the most from the extra years of life made possible by today’s healthcare advances. Private or semi-private accommodation enables seniors to live well, remain active, feel secure and free from repetitive often exhausting household responsibilities. Nursing supervision and on-call physician care offer our senior residents the peace of mind they so richly deserve. Sentara Villages share their campus with a Sentara Nursing Center, adding the capability to provide for higher levels of nursing care at the same, familiar location. Our staff is dedicated to providing the quality care and high degree of customer service for which Sentara employees have been recognized for over 100 years.
Sentara Nursing Centers provide for a higher level of skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. Nursing care at all levels is available to meet residents’ medical needs to help them maintain or regain function and enhance their daily living capabilities. The professional staff at each Center has special expertise, compassion and enthusiasm for care for older adults, working under the supervision of the Center’s medical director. Job Information
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
help nurses and other members of the healthcare team provide patient care and help maintain a suitable environment. Nursing Assistants are also known as “nurse aides,” or “orderlies” when working in a hospital environment. Some of the tasks performed by Nursing Assistants are:
taking patients' temperature, blood pressure and pulse
changing surgical dressings/bandages
assist patients in and out of bed
bathe, dress, undress and otherwise assist with patients' hygiene needs
feeding patients and helping them exercise
help maintain a clean, comfortable environment
change linens and sheets
when working in a home based environment, they also provide additional routine housekeeping services including purchasing food, and preparing and serving special diets to patients Home health aides
help elderly, convalescent, or disabled persons live in their own homes instead of in a healthcare facility. Under the direction of nursing or medical staff, they provide health-related services. Like nursing aides, home health aides may check pulse, temperature, and respiration; help with simple prescribed exercises; keep patients' rooms neat; and help patients move from bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Occasionally, they change non-sterile dressings, give massages and alcohol rubs, or assist with braces and artificial limbs. Experienced home health aides also may assist with some medical equipment. Homemaker Companions
assist elderly or disabled persons live in their own homes by helping to provide for some of their routine daily needs. They do not generally provide direct patient care except to assist clients to maintain a safe environment, or to enable them to more easily follow their care plan. Homemaker Companions are essential to helping maintain a clean, safe, therapeutic environment that helps facilitate stabilizing or improving a patients condition or outlook. They may perform routine housekeeping services and may in some cases accompany clients outside of the home, serving as a guide or companion. Patient Care Assistants (PCAs)
work in some hospitals closely with and under direction of a RN (Registered Nurse) They help administer therapeutic programs and monitor the condition of patients. They utilize technical knowledge and specialized training to provide direct patient care including phlebotomy (blood work) and EKGs. Specific responsibilities might include:
monitoring patients for changes in condition
recording and reporting changes
setting up and operating therapeutic equipment,
instructing and supervising patients about rehabilitative therapy
helping to carry out planned patient care programs
assisting medical staff in changing dressings and
conducting patient examinations
assisting in personal hygiene and activities
specimen collection including phlebotomy
cleaning and ordering of equipment and supplies,
maintaining charts, transcribing of physician orders and data entry Patient Care Assistants
must have Certified Nursing Assistant or other formal training or other significant related direct patient care experience (including military training) in order to perform their duties. Second or Third year students in an accredited RN or LPN program are normally employed in these positions. Nursing Care Partners
are graduates of Sentara’s Nursing Care Partner Program, offered by the School of Health Professions, located on the campus of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital The school is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Nursing Care Partners:
assist with routine patient care
help patients with daily living activities
collect specimens including blood for laboratory analysis
assist medical staff in changing dressings
assist patients with personal hygiene
help with patient transport
use the hospital’s computer system
assist with operation of select medical equipment
Upon completion of this program, graduates are eligible to work in Sentara’s acute care hospitals, and they may also take the national certification examination in phlebotomy. Work Environment
Nursing assistants are employed in a variety of work environments including hospitals, nursing homes and even in patients homes. In a hospital, nursing assistants can work in a variety of areas including newborn nurseries and acute care settings. In nursing homes or home care situations, the nursing assistant is often the principal caregiver, under direction of a Registered Nurse supervisor. Because some residents stay in nursing homes or remain home-bound for extended lengths of time, nursing assistants can develop ongoing relationships with them and interact with them in a positive, caring way.
Work schedules vary and since patients in long-term care facilities especially need care 24 hours a day, evening, night and weekend shifts are possible. Many nursing assistants work part time. As in any nursing career, there are physical demands in helping to lift and position patients, assist them to walk or in helping to transport them. Helping to maintain a safe environment is a big responsibility. Although work as a nursing assistant can be emotionally demanding, it can be a very personally satisfying career choice for those who enjoy helping others. Job Outlook/Advancement
In hospital settings, many of the more routine patient care duties are now being performed by nursing assistants. An aging population and increasing healthcare needs all point to increasing demand for healthcare professionals in all areas. In particular, the need for patient care specialists to work in nursing homes and to assist patients to live in their own homes will increase significantly in the years to come.
Nursing Assistant positions are considered to be entry level positions into healthcare. They provide the basis of experience, knowledge, and exposure to healthcare careers, that help dedicated, qualified individuals move into more responsible roles. Additional training is readily available, and many programs offer advancement to Registered Nurse and other healthcare career specialties that are in high demand now and into the future. A job as a Nursing Assistant can be your fist step toward a rewarding career in healthcare. Training Requirements
Most positions as a Nursing Assistant require completion of an accredited training program and also require a High School diploma or GED. Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills are a quality that anyone working in a patient care setting must possess.
In some cases, neither a high school diploma nor previous work experience is necessary for a job as a home health aide or a homemaker companion . Work in a hospital or nursing home may require previous experience or formal training and appropriate certification.
Length of training for nursing assistants varies depending on the area of specialization and the particular course or even the school involved. It is possible to receive training in as little as 60-90 days through some fast-paced programs.
Training is available through many local and state programs as well as from vocational schools, private technical schools, and even through some hospital training programs. Much training is of an on-going nature and is provided by more experienced nurses on-the-job. In any area of nursing, learning never stops, and nursing assistants are expected to continue to increase their knowledge and experience levels. Licensure/Certification
Although formal certification is not required for all positions, having obtained that level of accomplishment increases career opportunities. After successful completion of an approved program, applicants must apply to the State Board of Nursing and must successfully complete an examination.
Application for licensure must be made to the State Board of Nursing:
Virginia Department of Health Professions,
6603 West Broad St. 5th Floor
Richmond, Va 23230-1712
804-662-9900 www.dhp.virginia.govRelated Links National Network of Career Nursing Assistants
3577 Easton Road Norton,OH 44203 330-825-9342 National Association for Home Care
228 7th St. SE Washington DC 20003 Educational Programs Sentara College of Health Sciences
Norfolk General Hospital 757-388-2900 Virginia Area Health Education Centers Program
1010 E. Marshall Street P.O. Box 980535 Richmond, Virginia 23298-0535 (804) 828-7639 fax (804) 828-5160