Nursing homes employed 34% of nursing aides in 2020, which is more than other medical facilities. These medical care providers are an essential part of a medical team and their absence would negatively impact the treatment you receive at a medical facility that depends on them.

For this reason, it’s surprising that not all people understand what exactly they do.

In this article, we discuss the different types of nursing aides including nursing assistants and CNAs. We also discuss where they commonly work such as assisted living and long-term care facilities. Continue reading to find out how these care providers make all the difference.


What Is a Nursing Aide vs. a Temporary Nursing Aide vs. a CNA?

The responsibilities of a nursing aide, or nursing assistant, vary depending on their level of qualification such as a nursing aide, a certified nursing aide, and a temporary nursing aide.

Each position has its own required set of skills, qualifications, and duties. While some overlap, there are distinctions between each type.

Nursing Aide 

A nursing aide, or nursing assistant, supports the medical team by caring for the everyday needs of a patient. This often includes serving meals, bathing, and dressing.

In some settings, a nursing aide may maintain and replace bandages. They may also take a patient’s vitals to record in the medical chart or report to the designated registered nurse.

A nursing aide typically undergoes the same education as a CNA. The main difference is that a nursing aide has not completed the certification exam. Without the certification, it can be more difficult to compete for job openings.

Temporary Nursing Aide

The COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on medical professionals everywhere, which is why the position of temporary nursing aide was created. A temporary nursing aide supports nurses and nurses’ aides.

This position is especially needed in facilities that care for elderly adults such as a nursing home, assisted living, or long-term care facility. The process is expedited to get extra hands on the medical floor sooner in order to provide relief to hard-working medical professionals.

Certified Nursing Aide (CNA)

A certified nursing aide provides the same support as a non-certified nursing aide. They care for patients’ needs on a basic level. With the certification, they are often entrusted more with performing basic medical skills including taking vital signs.

The certification they receive puts them on their state’s CNA registry. While there are more steps involved with becoming certified in comparison to a nursing aide, the process is faster and simpler than becoming a registered nurse.

How to Become a Nursing Aide

There are three main considerations to observe when considering a career as a CNA. You want to make sure you have the necessary skills, required education, and formal certification.


To determine if becoming a nursing aide is the right fit, you should ask yourself if you have patience, flexibility, and attention to detail. These are essential to not only providing great care to your patients and great assistance to your medical team, but they’re also important in experiencing job satisfaction.

Since it’s common for nursing assistants to work in a nursing home or assisted living, they often work with elderly adults. In some cases, their mental faculties are not what they once were, so patience and flexibility are essential.

Likewise, attention to detail helps with older patients (as well as other patients), especially when it comes to meeting their needs. A patient may be reluctant to point out any issues or might not be aware an issue exists. By noticing these small details, a nursing aid may be able to help their medical team even more.


To start a career as a nursing assistant, the completion of a nursing assistant program is required. A prerequisite for these kinds of programs is a high school diploma or a GED.

The curriculum for CNA programs varies by state, though they typically learn about human anatomy, nutrition, gathering patient information, and assisting patients with activities. These courses range from four to 12 weeks depending on the state.

Some courses also offer hands-on experience working with patients. This helps prepare them for their first day on the job.


Once a student completes the CNA program, they can pursue certification. The examination portion of certification may require students to demonstrate their knowledge on a multiple-choice test, demonstrate reading comprehension, and/or demonstrate the technical skills expected of a CNA.

Some states require certification before they can work as a CNA or shortly after accepting a position as a CNA. Checking local requirements is essential before starting a new job.

Where Can a Nursing Aide Work?

CNAs can be found in a number of medical facilities where medical professionals are in need of assistance. This can range from hospitals to assisted living to long-term care facilities.

The latter two are the most common and where the most assistance is needed. It’s rare for a nursing assistant to work in a clinical setting.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Nursing Aide?

Whether they work in a nursing home or hospital, the responsibilities of a nursing aide are almost always the same. Besides basic care such as meal prep and bathing, CNAs also help their patients in other ways.

Some patients that struggle with a mobility need to be turned or fed. They also help with keeping supplies well-stocked for the medical team. Essentially, their job is to do whatever the medical team needs short of performing medical treatments and diagnosing patients.

They’re an invaluable part of a medical facility!

Thank a CNA

Being a nursing aide requires a lot of hard work and dedication to the job. They have to pay close attention to their patients and be willing to do what’s necessary to provide the best care for their patients and the medical team. The next time you see a CNA, say thank you!

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