What does a Nurse Aide do?

Nursing aides, sometimes called nursing assistants, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.


Nursing aides provide basic care and help with activities of daily living. They typically do the following:

  • Clean and bathe patients or residents
  • Help patients use the toilet and dress
  • Turn, reposition, and transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listen to and record patients’ health concerns and report that information to nurses
  • Measure patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serve meals and help patients eat

Some nursing aides also may dispense medication, depending on their training level and the state in which they work.
In nursing homes and residential care facilities, nurse aides are often the principal caregivers. They have more contact with residents than other members of the staff. Because some residents stay in a nursing home for months or years, nurse aides may develop close relationships with their residents.

Nurse Aides typically do the following:

  • Assist patients with moving about the facility, such as pushing wheelchairs
  • Clean equipment and facilities
  • Change linens
  • Stock supplies

Nursing aides work as part of a healthcare team under the supervision of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses.

In Virginia, you will need to take and pass a Virginia Board of Nursing required exam in order to become a “Certified” Nurse Aide or CNA.