Licensed nursing assistants (LNA) play a vital role in the healthcare industry. Under the supervision of nurses, they are responsible for providing essential services to patients, throughout their shift. What exactly does an LNA do, in a single shift? And what exactly is the difference between LNA nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNA)? Read on to learn about nursing assistants, how to become an LNA and more.
Tasks and responsibilities of Licensed Nurse Assistants
Though an “entry level position,” LNA work is uniquely demanding on multiple levels. Under the watchful eye of a registered nurse and other qualified staff, you will be providing basic care to a number of patients at any given day. This includes (but is not limited to) turning and moving them from room to room, feeding them and dressing them. You will also be expected to clean their rooms and replace the bed linens, to ensure a hygienic patient environment. Throughout the day, you have to monitor your patient’s condition by reading vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate. LNAs are expected to document any changes they observe, before submitting said documentation to their supervisors, who will make the appropriate changes to their care plans. There is also an emotional dimension to care work that is essential for holistic healing. Hospitalization can be an isolating, and grueling experience for the patients. LNAs have to provide them with emotional support and company throughout the process.
Job requirements of LNAs
Compared to other medical professions, becoming an LNA is not as demanding or costly. Specific educational requirements will depend on your area’s State Board of Nursing, but most LNAs have to finish a state-approved LNA job training program. This LNA requirement will only take 4 to 8 weeks to complete, and will teach you the basic medical skills and ethics of the profession. Most of these programs will require at least a high school diploma from you, although some will also ask for a criminal background check.
After you finish training, you may need to take a competency exam and a background check for certification. Most states use the NNAAP or National Nurse Aide Assessment Program, which is divided into written and oral sections. Other tests could even have demonstrative sections, depending on where you live. Before anything else, you want to consult your training program to find both the format of your exam and relevant learning resources. Once you pass the test, you will acquire certification and either the Licensed Nursing Assistant or Certified Nursing Assistant title. There is no functional difference between the two– while most states opt for the former, states like Rhode Island refer to their nursing assistants as LNA nurses.
LNAs can be found in a number of different facilities:
Nursing care facilities – 34%
Hospitals – 32%
Continuing care retirement facilities – 10%
Home healthcare services – 6%
Government – 4%
This draws from a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) census of 1.3 million nursing assistants held in 2021. Nursing care facilities are the most common place-of-work for LNAs, while hospitals are a close second. Though there are LNAs in government facilities and home healthcare, it is far less common.
LNA employment looks to be trending upwards, in the coming years. According to the BLS, the profession is set to grow 5% between 2021 to 2031, which is in line with the average growth rate for most occupations. In practice, this translates to 220,200 annual job openings within that time span. With healthcare workers retiring in droves in the coming years, new CNAs will be in demand to fill these vacancies. Aging populations with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease will also require LNAs to look after them as they age.
Salary of LNAs
As for salary, nursing assistants were reported to earn around $30,290 per year or $14.56 per hour. It is important to keep in mind that this figure is not a constant. Your LNA salary will ultimately be determined by your work experience, location, facility and any additional qualifications. On average, you will be earning less than registered nurses or other nursing counterparts. If you want to increase your earning potential even further, then you want to sign with VitaWerks. By securing the best rates in your area, LNA nurses could have the potential to earn more than their fully-salaried counterparts.You can save money for further education down the line, or you can live happily and comfortably as an LNA–ultimately, the choice is yours.