Nurses vs. Paraprofessionals

Nursing aides assist nurses in various basic tasks and responsibilities.
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Paraprofessionals support the roles of professionals in various occupations. In nursing, registered nurses perform a wide array of duties in patient care, while aides, orderlies and assistants help them in various ways. The roles and responsibilities, pay, and educational requirements and qualifications vary between RNs and nursing paraprofessionals.

Nurse Basics

    To become a registered nurse, you must complete an accredited certification program, associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. The more education you attain, the higher-level roles you can take on in nursing. Compassion, communication skills and attention to detail are key traits. You must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, to become licensed to practice. RNs earned an average annual salary of $67,930 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nurse Duties

    Nurses perform an array of duties in helping doctors treat patients. Common responsibilities include getting initial information on patient symptoms, updating medical records, performing height, weight and temperature checks, administering shots, applying bandages and hooking up IVs. Nurses also play an advisory role in giving patients information on how to prevent and treat various illnesses and diseases at home. Nurses may also assist doctors in operating rooms and in performing diagnostic tests using various types of medical equipment.

Nursing Paraprofessional Basics

    To become a nursing aide, orderly or assistant, you typically just need to have a high school diploma, complete a state-accredited certification program and pass a competency exam that qualifies you for a paraprofessional job title. Compassion, communication and patience are important qualities for nursing paraprofessionals. Average pay for paraprofessional roles was $25,620 per year as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Paraprofessional Duties

    The duties of a paraprofessional are typically much less glamorous than those of nurses, but they are also very important in patient care. Common responsibilities in patient care include bathing and grooming, dressing, assisting getting patients in and out of bed and to the restroom, feeding, providing basic safety information and transporting from one room to another. Aides also assist nurses in performing basic treatments and in updating patient records.

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