How to Get a Job as a Nursing Aide
Anyone interested in becoming a nursing aide should be compassionate, patient, and have good speaking skills. Expressing compassion and empathy for the sick men and women they care for daily, maintaining patience in the midst of stressful situations, and being able to effectively share their patients’ concerns with doctors and other health workers are key for excelling as a nursing aide.
What is the Job Like?
Most nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants work full-time, usually from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., says Cantrell. But because nursing homes and hospitals offer round-the-clock care, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants must allot for tremendous flexibility in their schedules. It’s not uncommon for them to work nights, weekends, and even holidays. “There are time-management issues on the job itself just because there are so many things to be completed in a small amount of time on their shifts, especially when you consider some residents are total-care,” she says. “You just imagine everything that you do for yourself once you get out of bed in the morning. And just envision doing that for another person; that times eight or 10 or however many residences you have on your assignment.”
Cantrell, who began her career as a nursing aide 30 years ago, says there’s always room for upward mobility. She says some of the best nurses she has worked with were former nursing assistants. “Working as a nursing assistant will give you experience that you aren’t always able to get as a nurse and it also gives you a really good perspective of the organizational hierarchy,” she says. “Having that perspective will make you a much better team leader.” Low pay and high demand creates high turnover among nursing aides, and the diligent work of attendants sometimes goes unnoticed, she says. “Many times, nursing assistants feel like it’s a thankless job,” she says. “Everybody is so wrapped up in their tasks that they don’t always remember to thank and appreciate and recognize the nursing assistants who are so patient and kind and compassionate with the residents or patients they are serving.”
“Nursing assistants don’t always get the credit for the important work that they do,” Cantrell adds. “They are the closest person to the patients or the residents.”