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The Difference in a CNA and an RN

While both Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) work in the same industry, they each have their unique set of duties and responsibilities. Understanding the key differences can help both students and professionals.

Being a CNA does not require any degree. Anyone who wants to work in this field simply needs a high school diploma or GED. There is a nurse aid training program which has mandated hours and results in a certificate after passing the certification exam.

However, candidates cannot work as RNs until they have received either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an Associate Degree in Nursing. After a person has passed a national exam, she may receive an RN license and work in this field.

Job position and scope or practice are also widely different for these two fields. CNAs are considered entry level jobs. They carry out their work under the direction of an RN and hold a fairly low position in the hierarchy.

This medical staff cannot perform the responsibilities of the RN and do not have the authority to make decisions on their own. Registered Nurses are ranked significantly higher in the medical industry and are in charge of both CNAs and LPNs. They work closely and directly with patients and may accomplish duties or tasks of a nursing assistant.

Finally, the duties and responsibilities are different in both professions. CNAs provide basic care and may measure temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure. They will also provide personal care and assist patients in their daily activities.

For RNs, they assign tasks, provide assistance with medical procedures, dress wounds, and administer medications and injections.

These are some of the primary differences between CNAs and RNs. While both fields will have some areas of overlapping, they have specific roles and responsibilities.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Harold says:

    In the health-care field, there is a defined hierarchy in which the nurses and certified nursing assistants have a very definite place. In addition to the extra schooling and training you need to become a nurse, there are a number of other differences between the two professions, including pay rate, certification requirements and what duties each can perform. The only thing that would concern me if I were to choose such a career path is the array of duties – and they’re not pretty. The majority of CNAs work in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, although with a certificate, you can find work in hospitals, clinics and rehab facilities. Your primary duties will consist of cleaning, bathing and helping patients with toilet duties. You’ll be qualified to feed patients and help them transfer in addition to taking vitals.

  2. Richard says:

    We may have thought the days of the house call were over, but increasingly, they are coming back into fashion. Much of the interest is being fueled by the people expected to become insured through the Affordable Care Act, a surge of new consumers that our system simply can’t treat in person. That’s good news for CNA’s and RNs. Also driving the growth is the need to make care more convenient, particularly for those with chronic conditions, so patients can be monitored and coached to health anytime, anywhere. And there’s a cost component to the trend as well. “Hospital at Home, a program designed by Johns Hopkins that provides acute care services in the homes of patients who might otherwise be hospitalized, has been demonstrated to increase the quality of care patients receive, improve their satisfaction, and reduce costs by at least 30 percent.

  3. Nicholas says:

    My guy friend, who recently came on a student visa, intends to go to college and work and eventually stay permanently. I mentioned to him that getting a job as a CNA, but my concern is that there may be a gender discrimination sort of environment that exists in this field. I’m speaking out of ignorance, of course. Perhaps there are now more and more males in the field of CNA. So I sure would appreciate some feedback from someone who has experience in this job market.

  4. John says:

    One of the most important and sometimes difficult relationships in the medical profession is the interaction between the nurse and the CNA. Certified nursing assistants are often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. Some nurses tend to look down their noses at CNAs, and even some patients don’t give them the respect they deserve. I know from my years on the floor that I would not have gotten very far without the help, advice, and support of my fantastic CNAs.

  5. Curtis says:

    I suppose Certified Nurses should acknowledge Registered Nurses’ safety concerns and workload worries when addressing bariatric nursing care. Many RNs are ambivalent about obesity and need to improve their knowledge base. Stigmatizing behaviors, verbal and nonverbal, are not always recognized by RNs. If Cn’s and Rn’s and CNA’s are going to continue to coexist with one another and work effectively, there should be some recognition to the fact that discussion may encourage self-awareness and promote improved practice.

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