Submitted by: Christian Health Care Center

What is a nursing assistant, and what do they do?

Nursing Assistants play a vital role. Photo courtesy: CHCC.
Nursing Assistants play a vital role. Photo courtesy: CHCC.

Looking for a job in Whatcom County? What would you say to a quick-start career with practically guaranteed full-time work?

The only caveat is that, like any nurse, you have to be compassionate and loving, with a servant’s heart.

Is that you? Great. Read on.

As the population ages, the value of nursing assistants (also known as Nursing Assistants-Certified or Certified Nursing Assistants) only grows. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts booming job growth for NACs through at least 2024. The predicted 17 percent growth rate for nursing assistants far surpasses the national average of 7 percent.

Not only is there a great need for nursing assistants, but the process of becoming a NAC is fast and easy. Christian Health Care Center offers free classes for anyone who wants to start a career in healthcare and work at CHCC.

Nursing Assistants make a difference in the world. Photo courtesy: CHCC.
Nursing Assistants make a difference in the world. Photo courtesy: CHCC.

The four-week training program teaches students about the roles and responsibilities of nursing assistants, residents’ rights, patient care techniques, infection control, observation and reporting skills, addressing mental health challenges, using modern technology to record medical records and much more.

Quite a few people work as NACs while they’re going to school to become a registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse or while they’re earning a degree for another position in the healthcare field. CHCC has seen a number of people work as NACs while they attend educational programs at Bellingham Technical College, Whatcom Community College or Western Washington University.

What do NACs do on a daily basis?

In a nursing home setting such as at CHCC, NACs work as members of the facility’s care team under the direct supervision of a team leader or unit coordinator who is an RN or an LPN.

Christian Health Care Center is a great place to work. Photo courtesy: CHCC.
Christian Health Care Center is a great place to work. Photo courtesy: CHCC.

“Nursing assistants are the heart and hands of the work we do here,” reports Heather Lewis, director of nursing services at CHCC.

A nursing assistant’s primary goal is to ensure that residents are well-cared for in a pleasant, positive and calm environment.

This means helping them perform activities of daily living, such as moving around, eating, using the bathroom, bathing, grooming and positioning. It also means measuring and recording residents’ blood pressure, weight, breathing and pulse.

“We know that a good NAC is a great communicator who always respects a resident’s rights and confidentiality.”

NACs also need to be attentive to residents’ needs. Sometimes, that might mean encouraging them to be more independent. Other times, it might mean encouraging them to accept help. While most residents have the same basic needs, the process of how ensuring those needs are met differs from person to person.

This group of Nursing Assistants graduated in November of 2016. Photo courtesy: CHCC.
This group of Nursing Assistants graduated in November of 2016. Photo courtesy: CHCC.

Want to get started?

Christian Health Care Center is recognized by the Washington State Department of Health as an approved training program for nursing assistants. Classes at the skilled nursing facility are held several times throughout the year. To sign up, visit CHCC online or check in on Facebook for upcoming sessions. Believe it or not, there is no cost to students. CHCC pays all class-related expenses (more than $1,000 in value), including the instructor fee, books, testing fees and application fees.

Once they’ve completed their certification, graduates of CHCC’s free NAC training class receive priority consideration for any nursing assistant jobs that are available at the time.

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