Nursing aides carry out tasks assigned to them by nursing and medical staff, such as serving meals, helping patients to eat and dress, and making beds. Other responsibilities include taking patients' vital signs, assisting patients in and out of bed, escorting patients to other areas of the facility, setting up equipment, and even assisting with some medical procedures. They observe the condition of patients and report that information to their supervisors. Nursing aides who work in nursing care facilities often have the most contact with residents out of all the staff, and, as a result, get to know the longer-term patients very well.
Besides having a strong desire to help people, nursing aides need to be compassionate, tactful, and understanding. They should be willing to perform repetitive tasks, have good interpersonal communication skills, and be able to work in a team. They also need to be in good health, as some States require tests for tuberculosis and other diseases.
In 2002, nursing aides earned a median hourly wage of $9.59. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $6.98, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $13.54. The highest hourly wage was found in the employment services industry, and the lowest was found in community care facilities for the elderly.
Training and Education
Often it is not necessary to have a high school diploma or previous work experience to obtain a job as a nursing aide. Some hospitals hire inexperienced workers with the requirement that they complete 75 hours of training and pass an evaluation within 4 months of employment. When aides pass the certification are added to the State registry of nursing aides. Nursing aide training can be found in high schools, vocational-technical centers, nursing care facilities, and community colleges.
Out of the nearly 2 million nursing, psychiatric, and home health aide jobs in 2002, about 1.4 million people were employed as nursing aides.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of nursing aides is expected to increase faster than the average because of an growing focus on rehabilitation and the needs of the elderly population. Pressure to quickly transfer patients out of hospitals will increase admissions to nursing care facilities. As more advanced medical technology keeps people alive longer, the demand for those who care for them will rise.