Nursing assistants (NAs) are trained to perform
basic patient care under the supervision of registered nurses and/or
licensed practical nurses. Their work responsibilities include measuring
vital signs and assisting patients with daily living activities,
such as feeding, bathing, moving, or grooming. patients, changing
linens, and storing or sterilizing equipment.
Patient care assistants (PCAs) receive additional training that expands
the traditional role of the nursing assistant. This training includes
an increase in supervised clinical hours, a component related to home
health and a component related to caring for patients in a hospital.
Assistant / Patient Care Assistant
The patient care technician (PCT) expands the nursing assistant
role further with additional training in several areas, including EKG,
phlebotomy, and an introduction to physical therapy. Graduates of
these programs are prepared to care for patients in nursing homes
and hospitals. In addition, they are prepared to care for clients
in their homes.
Generally, nursing assistants and patient care assistants work in
well-lighted, clean surroundings. Many work in hospitals, nursing
homes, home health care agencies, and doctors' offices. Their health
status must be very good as they will be on their feet most of the
time. They are required to lift and move patients. The work week
is usually 40 hours and includes weekends, nights, and holidays.
Approximately 2,981 job openings
are expected each year in Florida until 2008.
Length of Training/Requirements
A high school diploma/GED is not required, although applicants must
be at least 16 years of age. Programs have been established to allow
students to receive training while enrolled in high school. Upon
graduation, the high school student is prepared to enter the work
force as a nursing assistant or patient care assistant. Individual
counselors will provide the details for entry into training. Training
programs provide instruction and supervised clinical experiences
related to basic patient care, interpersonal/communication skills,
safety measures, infection control, medical terminology, nutrition,
basic anatomy, vital signs, CPR, and employability skills. Supervised
clinical experiences for nursing assistants are provided in nursing
homes. A minimum of 40 clinical hours is required. They may also
complete additional clinical hours that may include rotations to
hospitals and home health agencies. The nursing assistant component,
which is a state approved, non-matriculated course that promotes
quick entry into the work force, is approximately 120 hours of training.
Clinical experiences for patient care assistants occur in hospitals,
nursing homes, home health agencies, and private homes. The patient
care assistant program is approximately 290 hours.
Advancement requires additional education to expand the level of
knowledge and skills. Nursing assistants and patient care assistants
may be given advanced standing in licensed practical nursing programs.
Successful completion of an approved program in either nurse assisting
or patient care assisting prepares the student to take the National
Nurse's Aide Assessment Program. Successful completion of both a
written evaluation and a skills performance evaluation is required
for certification placement on the Florida Nursing Assistant Registry.
Certification is required to work in a licensed nursing home in
the state of Florida. This certification must be obtained within
120 days of employment. Some hospitals and other health care facilities
may also require certification. Once the nursing assistant or patient
care assistant becomes certified, they are eligible to perform home
health aide duties. Certification is maintained by completing the
required number of continuing education classes and by working in
a nursing related occupation without a lapse of 24 months.
According to the Florida Hospital Association, the average hourly
wage for nursing assistants/patient care assistants was $11.54 in