Nursing: Do You Have What it Takes? Part 2

Nursing Students

Spotlight: Nursing Aide, Attendants and Orderlies

Important Qualities

Compassion. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants provide care for the sick, injured, and elderly. A caring attitude is essential for a career in healthcare.

Patience. The routine tasks of cleaning, feeding, and bathing patients or residents can be stressful. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants must be patient to provide quality care.

Speaking and Listening skills. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants must be able to communicate effectively to understand and address patients’ concerns. They also need to communicate patients’ statuses to other healthcare workers.1

Typical Duties

Nursing aides and attendants provide basic care and help with individuals’ living activities, and generally do the following tasks:

  • Clean and bathe
  • 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 eat2

Orderlies may do some of the same tasks as nursing aides and attendants, although they do not usually provide healthcare services. They typically do the following:

  • Transport patients, such as taking a hospital patient to an operating room
  • Clean equipment and facilities3

Education Required

In order to become a nursing aide or attendant, you will need a postsecondary certificate, earned either by taking classes online or in an on-campus setting, as well as passing your state’s competency exam. Orderlies, in general, need at least a high school diploma.

Spotlight: LPN and LVN

(Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses)

Important Qualities

Compassion. An empathetic and caring attitude is necessary.

Detail oriented. LPNs and LVNs need to be responsible and detail-oriented because they must make sure that patients get the correct treatment at the right time.

Interpersonal skills. As an LPN or LVN, you will be working with people; an ability to do this effectively is essential.

Patience. Dealing with sick and injured people is often stressful. LPNs and LVNs should be patient so they can cope with stress that can come from providing healthcare to these patients.

Communication skills. You need to be able to communicate effectively – both listening and speaking. You will need to be able to listen to a patient and provide information to other nurses, such as an RN, and doctors.

Stamina. LPNs and LVNs will need to be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as bending over patients for a long time.4

Typical Duties

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses typically:

  • Monitor patients’ health – for example, by checking their blood pressure
  • Administer basic nursing care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Help patients with bathing or dressing
  • Discuss health care with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health

Keep in mind, duties can vary depending on your work setting, For example, you may teach family members how to care for a relative; help to deliver, care for, and feed infants; collect samples for testing and do routine laboratory tests; or feed patients who need help eating.

In some states, LPNs with proper training can give medication or start intravenous (IV) drips, while in other states they cannot. State regulations govern the extent to which LPNs and LVNs must be directly supervised. In some states, an LPN may provide certain forms of care only with instructions from a registered nurse.5

Education Required

LPNs and LVNs must complete an accredited program, typically a combination of classes (either online college courses or on-campus), such as anatomy & physiology , , and nursing as well as supervised clinical experience. An LPN or LVN must also pass the National Council License Examination (NCLEX-PN) to obtain their license to work in all states.6


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Nursing Aide, Orderly, or Attendant, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-4

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants Do, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-2

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants Do, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-2

4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-4

5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-2

6 Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse, 2012, p1.
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-4