What Is the Difference Between a Nurse Assistant and Nurse Aide?

If a health care career where you'd be providing supportive services for nurses appeals to you, you might consider becoming a nurse assistant or aide. Read on to learn more about the duties for each. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Nurse Assistant and Nurse Aide Defined

A nurse assistant and nurse aide are different titles for the same position. In this job, you're a health care worker acting in a basic care-giving capacity and providing support to nursing staff. You'll generally perform routine patient care under the supervision of physicians or licensed nurses. Other variations of this position include orderly, geriatric aide and hospital attendant.

Job Duties

As a nurse assistant, you might bathe and groom patients, bring them meals and take basic vital sign measurements, like pulse rate and temperature. You could also prepare hospital rooms, clean bedding and help patients walk around. Much of your work involves social interaction, which can include conversing, participating in activities and simply spending time with patients. You might develop caring relationships that can be beneficial to patients' mental well-being and healing.

Training Options

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that most employers require you earn at least a high school diploma to qualify for a job as a nurse assistant (www.bls.gov). You can prepare for the career by completing a nursing aid program offered through high schools or vocational centers, and some health care institutions provide on-the-job training.

While in a training program, you'll learn practical skills in care giving, such as bathing techniques and walking support. You also likely get an overview of health care and science topics, including courses in anatomy, physiology and nutrition. You might also become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic cardiac life support (BCLS).


The federal government regulates standards for nurse assistants who work in long-term care facilities or nursing homes. You'll need to complete at least 75 hours of coursework in a nurse training program. You can then become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) by passing a state-administered exam. The type of testing varies by state, but may be comprised of both written and practical components to test your competency as a nurse assistant.

Career Information

According to the BLS, nurse aides or assistants are expected to see a significant 21% increase in job opportunities from 2012 to 2022. In May 2013, these healthcare professionals earned an average of $26,020 a year, although a higher wage might be available once you become certified (www.bls.gov).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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