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The Important and Growing Role of Assistants in Nursing

Careers and University, Nursing

Anyone who relishes the idea of caring for people as a living may decide that a career in the medical world is a good choice. However, not everyone is suited to becoming a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse or physiotherapist.

For people who want to help, without having one of these roles, there is the option of becoming an assistant. For instance, there are Allied Health Courses which people can take in order to qualify for a role in assistance. Allied health assistants provide assistance to health practitioners including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists, speech pathologists and dietitians. Another assistance option in health is to become an assistant in nursing.

What is an Assistant in Nursing?

The role of an assistant in nursing (AIN) is one that is becoming ever more important, given the need to have enough medical and nursing staff to deal with the care of patients across Australia.

The responsibilities of a nursing assistant

The responsibilities of a nursing assistant, or an Assistant in Nursing (AIN), continue to expand as nurses require more support to cope with the growing demand for their services. In simple terms, an AIN provides support to registered nurses (RN) and enrolled nurses (EN). This support can include reporting on the condition of patients and making sure their details are fully recorded.

There are many responsibilities which fall within the scope of practice of an AIN. These responsibilities include ensuring that basic hygiene procedures are adhered to, including the hygiene of patients. AINs are also responsible for tasks such as advising the nurses they support about changes to a patient’s condition and feeding patients who are unable to do this for themselves.

Skills and traits needed to work as a nursing assistant

There are several abilities and traits that are required in order for a person to succeed as an AIN. These skills and attributes include:

  • Good communication skills in order to be able to interact with nurses, doctors, patients, and patient’s relatives on a regular basis.
  • The ability to be discreet in what can be a sensitive environment.
  • A high level of compassion which is required in order to give patients the dedicated care that they need.
  • The ability to deal with situations where many people might be squeamish, such as when there is a lot of blood around.
  • Physical perseverance as the role can be a demanding one.
  • Tolerance of shift patterns which can have an effect on sleep patterns.

It’s clear to see that nursing assistants have a very important role to play. Anyone who is good at the role can attempt to progress in their career by becoming a qualified nurse. Additional training is required (An 18 month to 2-year nursing diploma for an EN and a 3-year nursing degree for an RN). Having a background as an AIN is advantageous when completing the qualifications to become an EN or RN as you will have a solid grounding in the practical skills to be a nurse. Of course, there is no requirement for an AIN to go on to become a nurse. They perform a valuable service in the assistant role and may be quite happy to carry on that way.

3 replies to “The Important and Growing Role of Assistants in Nursing”

  1. I would like to participate in volunteering for a nurse assistant to gain insight and experience for my future decisions, I would like to gain knowledge and learn new beneficial things.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      It would be worth checking with the ANMF regarding the possibility of volunteering, as I’m not sure that this would be possible in Australia.
      If you are open to completing a Certificate III, this would be one way of getting hands-on practical experience as an AIN. The pathway and career stories on the Choose Your Own Health Career website may be of interest to you:
      Warm regards,
      Amanda – Founder MHC

  2. Yes this role is very demanding as RNs get few patients but AIN has full ward and all the nurses want you to be with them for even small tasks in order to finish tasks quickly even if it is something a single person do like just putting on clothes on fully mobile patient.

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