The Scoop on Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants

Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants are the masses of folks who work with patients and professionals in Hospitals and Health Care Facilities.

Each of these people helps to make someone's day easier and more comfortable in a health care facility where Doctors, Nurses, Technicians, patients and their families need assistance.

What in the World Do Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants Do?

Nursing Aides work with patients in very light nursing duties and very simple medical care under the direction of Registered Nurses and Doctors. This occupation has changed names from Orderly, to Attendant and now to Nursing Aide.

Your responsibilities might include taking a patient's blood pressure or heart rate, helping a patient get ready for a procedure or helping a patient take medications. You may bring and feed them a meal, or help them bathe and get dressed. You may set up equipment, store equipment, and assist as instructed. You might help with patient recreational activities.

If you're working as a Nursing Aide you might follow the explicit instructions of a nurse, so that the nurse can focus on other tasks. In other words, you are helping the Nurse do their job and make their life easier, and you are helping the patient to stay comfortable and make their stay as easy as possible.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Becoming a Nursing Aide is simpler than you might think. The Federal Government usually requires you complete a competency test, and many States require the passage of a certification program to work as a Nursing Aide. Because States vary in their requirements, you will need to check with your State Medical Board to see what the requirements are where you live.

Once you complete your training program (typically a 75 hour class), then you will become a CAN (Certified Nurses Aide), and you can be placed on a State Listing of Nurse's Aides.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

This is another instance where you have to go where the patients are. The reality of this job is that you can work in ANY health care facility ANYWHERE with no problem. Hospitals, mental health care facilities, nursing homes, hospice care centers, convalescent homes, and specialty health care clinics all need Nursing Aides.

Since most jobs are easy to find you simply have to hit the ground hard and make sure that you are looking around to find the best job for you. Because you can work just about anywhere, you should be able to get a job where the hours fit your life, family, and/or school.

Advancement in this field means that you are working towards certification in another medical field. The reality is that you can only advance as a nursing aide if you get into management of other nurse's aides in a hospital or clinic. You might become the "Director of Nurse's Aides" in a hospital where you could then get further into the administration of healthcare. This would take you out of direct patient contact, but it is a good career move from a business perspective. Either way, you're not just going to be giving a Mr. Thompson a sponge bath your whole life.

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Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants Overview

Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendant Salary:$23,850
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:0 years
# Employed in US:1,422,720
% Who work Part Time:24%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + + +

The Pros of being a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant

  • You need only a 75 hour training course to get certified (IF your state requires it)
  • The job allows you to work all kinds of hours to work around your life and family
  • You can advance into management with experience

The Cons of being a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant

  • The job is very labor intensive
  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • You may be uncomfortable dressing and bathing patients