A Day in the Life of a Certified Nursing Assistant

A day in the life of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can be both rewarding and challenging. CNAs provide basic care to patients in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. While the specific tasks and duties may vary depending on the workplace, here’s an overview of a typical day for a CNA:

Shift handover

At the beginning of a shift, CNAs receive a report from the outgoing CNA or nurse about the patients they will be caring for, including any changes in their conditions, specific needs, or concerns.

Patient Rounds

CNAs visit each of their assigned patients, checking on their well-being and addressing any immediate needs or concerns. This may include taking vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rate) and documenting them in the patient’s chart.

personal care

CNAs assist patients with personal hygiene tasks, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and using the toilet. They also help patients maintain oral hygiene and may apply creams or ointments prescribed by a healthcare provider.

mobility assistance

CNAs help patients with mobility, which can include repositioning bedridden patients to prevent bedsores, assisting with transfers between the bed and a wheelchair, and providing support during walking or exercise.

Meals and Feeding

CNAs often assist with meal preparation, serving food to patients, and providing assistance with feeding if necessary. They also monitor food and fluid intake, documenting this information in the patient’s chart.


CNAs serve as a vital link between patients and other healthcare professionals. They listen to patients’ concerns, report any changes in their conditions to nurses, and provide emotional support to patients and their families.


CNAs help maintain a clean and safe environment for patients. This may include changing linens, cleaning rooms, and disposing of waste.

Medical Assistance

CNAs may perform simple medical tasks, such as changing dressings, emptying catheter bags, or administering non-injectable medications under the supervision of a nurse or other healthcare professional.


Throughout the day, CNAs must accurately document patient information, including vital signs, intake and output, and any changes in the patient’s condition.

End-of-shift handover

At the end of their shift, CNAs give a report to the incoming CNA or nurse, providing information about the patients, their conditions, and any issues that arose during the shift.

CNAs often work long hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays, and their days can be physically and emotionally demanding. However, the role is crucial in providing essential care and support to patients, making it a rewarding career choice for many.

photo of woman with stethoscope hanging on the back of her neck

What other duties might a CNA be expected to do on a day to day basis?

While the core responsibilities of a CNA are generally consistent across healthcare settings, additional duties may vary depending on the specific workplace and patients’ needs. Some other tasks a CNA might be expected to perform include:

Monitoring and reporting changes in patients’ behavior or cognitive status to the nursing staff or healthcare providers.

Assisting with rehabilitation exercises, range-of-motion exercises, or physical therapy under the supervision of a therapist or nurse.

Taking and recording patients’ height and weight measurements.

Collecting specimens for lab testing, such as urine or stool samples.

Assisting with medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators, nebulizers, or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.

Providing basic wound care, such as cleaning and dressing minor wounds or skin abrasions under the supervision of a nurse.

Encouraging and helping patients participate in social and recreational activities, as appropriate.

Transporting patients to and from appointments or procedures within the healthcare facility.

Supporting healthcare providers during medical examinations or treatments, such as holding or positioning patients.

Assisting with end-of-life care, providing comfort and support to terminally ill patients and their families.

Participating in educational sessions, staff meetings, or in-service training to maintain and enhance their knowledge and skills.

Stocking and maintaining supplies in patient rooms and nursing stations, ensuring necessary items are readily available.

The specific duties of a CNA may change depending on the needs of the patients and the healthcare facility. It’s essential for CNAs to be adaptable, willing to learn, and able to perform a wide range of tasks to support the healthcare team and provide the best care possible to their patients.

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