My Unique Twist

Chance favors the prepared mind.

What IS a Nurse?

Posted by Sean RN on November 7, 2007

I thought I’d start my emotional therapy by first explaining that whenever I speak of a ‘nurse’ I am referring to a Registered Nurse. So to not properly define the different types of nurses would be a disservice to all nurses of all types, and I would then fall into the same category that all other members of society fall into, the un-informed.

So what types of nurses are there?

Well in all cases their respective duties and or labels will include nursing responsibilities.

Nursing Aide / Nurse’s Aide /  Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA) / Clinical Aide (CA) / SA / Tech

The term and or label/name all depends on where you are from, and how your facility treats the given occupation. Each label and/or name implies a different set of responsibilities. Some have more than others, but at their core they are still an assistant to the RN or LPN (I’ll get to that later). For simplicity I’ll refer to them as the Aide. Most aides are trained at the facility they are employed. Some can and do get outside training. For instance a CNA is certified. So they actually sit through a course and have to pass an exam at the end to be considered and referred to as a CNA. All Aides assist with the daily care of patients. Everything from ambulation assistance, to meal preparation, toileting assistance, help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). The Aide is the go-to person for all the patient’s basic needs. That is not to say they do not assist with other duties. Some Aides will be cross trained in phlebotomy. Aides can draw blood from Vascular Access Devices (VAD’s), as well as cannulate and draw blood from peripheral IV’s. These duties of course would require additional training. In the end the Aide knows the most about a patient’s mental health and personal well-being because they see the patient more often than any other staff member. They are their through the embarrassing moments as well as the happy moment’s a patient may endure while they are sick.

Aides work in just about every environment you can think of when it comes to the sick. Everywhere from the traditional Hospital, to nursing homes, retirement homes, rehabilitation centers,etc. The list goes on.

In my opinion anyone who has an interest in the field of nursing should shadow and follow an Aide to see what they do, see how they care for the overwhelming load of pt’s they are assigned to care for. As a nursing student, some of my best lessons were taught to me by the nursing aide’s I worked with as a student on the floor. Not do diminish or minimize this field of nursing, but most, not all, RN’s and LPN’s start out as an aide for this very reason. To get a better understanding and learn the tricks of the trade to being a nurse.

As I stated, there is a starting point for most nurse’s aides’ and then they receive additional training from the facility they are employed by. Every facility and every state is different, so please don’t ever assume anything.

Here is a short list of references for anyone that would like to learn more about Nursing Assistants:


Look for my next installment into the field of nursing: What Is a Nurse? Part II: LPN

As always take care of yourselves and yours.


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