Certified nursing assistants (CNA) are on the front lines of healthcare, providing basic care and support for individuals who are unable to manage their own needs. This can include patients with a chronic disease or injury, those recovering from surgery, and the elderly.

In addition to meeting their patients’ physical and emotional needs, CNAs also perform a number of other tasks that might not be as apparent. For example, they might help with cleaning and sterilizing equipment or storing away supplies in a clean room. And they might spend long shifts working with patients, often in one-on-one contact. They could be responsible for handling intimate, personal matters such as toileting and feeding. And they might have to deal with blood and injuries. If you’re squeamish or sensitive, this is probably not the career for you.

They may also be responsible for monitoring a patient’s vital signs and reporting changes to nurses or doctors. And they might be the first to notice a change in a patient’s behavior or overall health, whether it’s an increase in pain or a decrease in mobility.

As a result, CNAs work in a wide variety of settings, from general hospitals to psychiatric or neuro-medical treatment facilities. And they can make a significant difference in the lives of their patients, often serving as a bright spot in their day when family isn’t visiting.