You want to work in health care, but you don’t want to become a registered nurse. Besides, you really enjoyed the volunteer work you did for the local nursing home when you were in high school; those senior citizens had fascinating life stories and were such sweeties. You may find that a career as a nurse aide or nursing assistant is just right for you, and you could even specialize as a restorative nurse assistant, or RNA.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes nursing assistants as healthcare workers who provide basic care and help with daily living activities. They might help a patient take a bath, use the toilet or get dressed. Some nursing assistants take a patient's blood pressure or other vital signs, serve meals and help patients eat. Nurse assistants and aides work under the supervision of a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse or physician. In some states, they may dispense medications after taking a specialized course. Most states require that nurse aides or assistants who work in long-term care be certified.
An Expanded Role
The RNA is an expanded role for certified nursing assistants, or CNAs. RNAs are not covered by federal or state regulations, so do some careful research before you enter an RNA program or try to get a job in this field. Generally, you’ll need to be a practicing CNA with at least six months’ experience. You’ll also need professional recommendations from the director of nursing at the facility where you work, and should have a high school diploma or GED. Programs may differ. In Missouri, for example, you’ll receive education in three main areas: speech, occupational and physical therapy.
Work Settings and Tasks
An RNA might work in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, hospital adult day care or home health. You might perform tasks such as assessing a patient for a feeding program, and applying splints, braces or other orthotic devices. Other RNA tasks may include guiding patients in range-of-motion exercises or providing support to physical and occupational therapists. You may also transport patients; order and maintain supplies; and assemble, disassemble or clean equipment used in treatments.
The BLS does not differentiate between RNAs and other nursing aides or assistants; it says nurse aides and assistants earned an average annual salary of $25,420 in 2011, for an average hourly wage of $12.22. American Medical Careers reports that although salaries can vary according to experience, education and location, in California RNAs earn $22,535 to $36,361 annually, an hourly rate of $14.01. In Missouri, RNAs employed by the state earn $22,428 to $30,108 annually, according to the Missouri Office of Administration.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: Restorative Nurse Assistant (RNA)
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States
- American Medical Careers: Los Angeles Restorative Nurse Assistant (RNA) Classes
- Missouri Office of Administration: Restorative Aide
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.