What Does a CNA Do?

What Does a CNA Do?

By Manhattan Institute
Posted in CNA, CNA, Students
On June 30, 2015

A certified nursing assistant is so much more than a mere assistant. Your responsibility extends from the doctor to the patients and their families. You are the first face the patient sees in the office, so your energy and your friendly demeanor make the patient feel at ease while your job skills ensure that the appointment goes smoothly.

Balancing interpersonal skills with professional skills are key to being the best CNA you can be. This quick job description will help you understand and mentally prepare for your first day on the job, and will answer your ultimate question: What does a CNA Do? 

Assisting Patients

As a CNA, your first and foremost responsibility is the patient. Whether you work in an individual doctor’s office or a hospital, you will be responsible for the care and comfort of each patient under your watch. In a doctor’s office this will involve checking the vitals of each patient, reviewing previous appointment information, and measuring height and weight. You may even be required to collect samples for testing, such as urine.

In a hospital, guaranteeing a patient’s comfort and care is your biggest priority. You will be responsible for feeding the patients, providing fresh bed pans, and comfortably positioning patients with limited mobility. Depending on where you work, you may be required to bathe patients or provide basic hygienic care, including nail care, denture cleaning, and shaving. These are all essential tasks to ensure the health and wellbeing of each patient, and it will be your responsibility to do these with the utmost care.

Patient Care

Although CNAs are not the highest paid member of the healthcare team, they are certainly considered the most important. As a CNA, you are the one who has the most direct contact with the patients and are the one most able to see changes in patients’ health conditions.

That’s why CNAs feel very proud of the work they do, because their job is important. CNAs get close to their patients and are the ones who know their patients’ health issues, family problems, and many times they get to know the family themselves. It’s very self-fulfilling and rewarding job, which is why many times in facilities, you see CNAs who have worked over 30 years in the same facility.

Facility Cleanliness & Safety

You will have full working knowledge of the equipment in each facility you work in, which means that you will be responsible for the cleanliness and performance of these machines. Your training at Manhattan Institute will prepare you to use the equipment, so do not be intimidated by the technology in your facility.

CNAs may be required to maintain and observe any and all oxygen tanks and take necessary precautions when prepping a patient’s oxygen. You may also be responsible for carrying out all isolation precautions when it comes to patients’ samples of blood, feces, and needles. Beyond that, basic maintenance and cleanliness of patients’ rooms will be required, and this includes making beds, cleaning bed pans, and routine checks of equipment performance.

Facility Management

Depending on where you start in your new career as a CNA, you may have to work at the front desk or in an administrative capacity. This will involve the admittance, transfer, and discharge of patients, meaning you will be responsible in ensuring that each patient is admitted/transferred to the appropriate doctor and discharged appropriately.

Record-keeping is especially important in a doctor’s office for this reason, and maintaining these records on each patient will protect them from mis-diagnosis. You may also be asked to transfer special specimens to the lab or asked to assist on special procedures, especially if you are close with a particular patient. Your presence as a CNA can be very comforting to patients, and your bedside personality can greatly influence when and which special procedures you participate in.


The extensive knowledge you gain from studying at Manhattan Institute will prepare you for the equipment and procedures common in the nursing field, but being there for patients is what a CNA does best. As a CNA, you will be on-call for many of your patients. When you check on the patients, make sure that the call button is comfortably within reach. This will put your patients at ease, especially if they’re undergoing a difficult procedure, and it will reduce the amount of emergencies if you’re able to answer them quickly. Simply being there is a relief for both doctors and patients alike, making what a CNA does vital to the performance of any hospital or doctor’s office.

We hope you are now more confident about become a CNA and are no longer wondering "What does a CNA do?" Learn more about how to become a NYC CNA or get more information about enrolling in a CNA Training Program in NYC.