Submission date Roles and responsibilities of Registered Nurse, Licensed Vocational Nurse and Certified Nurse Assistant in California

As a practicing nurse I have come to observe that although we have different qualifications that get us to different nursing jobs our interactions in healthcare facilities cause us to help each other at some instances. Because of long experiences I have seen certified nursing assistants keen on knowing the work of a registered nurse who are capable of undertaking my roles but are only distracted from doing this by lack of certification. Despite the differences that may exist between our specific job details, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurse and certified nurse assistants in California undergo almost similar training programs. Although the qualifications of a registered nurse are much higher, they are not different from those of the other two groups. According to California’s state law the specific job details of the three groups are guided by the nurse practice act.

The core duties of a registered nurse are as listed below.

  • Write nursing care plan admit, perform primary evaluation, discharge patients as well as treat patients. They also educate patients
  • Provide emotional support and advice to patients
  • Recording the medical histories of patients and symptoms found
  • Helps to perform tests as well as analyze the results 
  • Under certain conditions they discontinue or adjust the flow of intravenous treatment or therapy
  • Operates medical machinery as required administers medication and treatment
  • Helps in the process of following up on patients progress and rehabilitation.

The duties of a licensed vocational nurse

  • They observe, record and report behaviors and conditions that are unusual. 
  • They take and record pulse, blood pressure, respiration and temperature
  • They administer medications that have been prescribed by doctors/physicians
  • They ensure physical and emotional well-being of patients. They perform different forms of irrigations and catheterizations.

The duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant

Unlike a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse the roles of certified nurse assistants is mainly to provide ‘individualized’ consideration to residents to achieve the highest possible mental, psychosocial and physical well-being. In order to achieve this, the certified nursing assistant will have to do some or all of the following tasks.

  • They ensure bedside nursing care like feeding, grooming, toileting, oral hygiene, colostomy and bathing of patients
  • They take and record pulse, blood pressure, respiration and temperature
  • They administer medications that have been prescribed by doctors/physicians

Apart from these duties the roles of the CNA will vary depending on the healthcare facility they are designated. Thus, incase they are in a facility for the physically challenged, they might find themselves helping the patients to get on their wheelchairs or at times pushing them around.

From the analysis above it is clear that some of the roles can be done by two or all three types of nurses. However, some job specific activities can either be performed by one or two but not all three of them. For example a certified nursing assistant can be present but they cannot perform tests or analyze the results of patients. Secondly it is not the role of a registered nurse to feed or bathe patients. A licensed vocational nurse cannot admit or discharge patients from a healthcare facility.

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