Duties of a Healthcare Assistant

Female nurse holding an Asian old woman and smiling
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Duties of a Healthcare Assistant: Healthcare assistants make the jobs of doctors and nurses much easier by administering to the needs of patients, even in the absence of a direct professional. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the role of healthcare professionals is as important as that of doctors because they all work together to achieve the purpose of healing. 

In addition, healthcare assistants play a vital role in the healthcare system. They work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and patients’ homes. Although the specific duties of a healthcare assistant may vary depending on the setting and your level of experience, the overall goal of a healthcare assistant is to contribute to the well-being and comfort of patients.

In this article, we address the key roles of healthcare assistants and the basic skills required to become a healthcare assistant professional.

Who are Healthcare Assistants?

Healthcare assistants, also known as HCAs, are allied healthcare professionals who have undergone specific training and education to provide basic care to patients. A healthcare assistant works under the supervision of registered nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals. 

To become a healthcare assistant, you need to complete a certificate or diploma program in healthcare assisting. However, some states require HCAs to pass a licensing exam.

Types of Healthcare Assistants

The two main categories of healthcare assistants are clinical and non-clinical.

  • Clinical healthcare assistants provide direct patient care, performing tasks like taking vital signs, assisting with medications, and helping with daily living activities. They may also work in specialized areas, like surgery or oncology.
  • Non-clinical healthcare assistants focus on administrative and support tasks, such as scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, and handling insurance paperwork. They may also work in reception or billing departments.

Relevant: How To Pass A Healthcare Interview  + Sample Response 

Specializations within Clinical Healthcare Assistants:

Within the clinical category, there are several specializations, each with its own focus and training requirements. Here are a few examples:

  • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs): CNAs provide basic care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. They help with tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs): LPNs have more advanced training than CNAs and can perform tasks like taking vital signs, giving injections, and monitoring medications. They can work in hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.
  • Medical Assistants: Medical assistants work in doctors’ offices and clinics, assisting with tasks like taking medical histories, preparing patients for examinations, and administering injections. They may also perform some administrative duties.
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants: Occupational therapy assistants work with patients who have difficulty performing everyday tasks due to illness, injury, or disability. They help patients regain or develop skills for daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and cooking.
  • Physical Therapy Assistants: Physical therapy assistants work with patients who have difficulty moving or performing physical activities due to illness, injury, or disability. They help patients improve their strength, flexibility, and balance.

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What are the Duties of a Healthcare Assistant?

The duties of a healthcare assistant are way too diverse. As mentioned earlier, their roles are highly dependent on the sector they are working in.

For example, a nursing home healthcare assistant will have different responsibilities than a healthcare assistant in a childcare center. And, since the healthcare sector is a susceptible industry where workers have to deal with sick people and their relatives, they have to face challenging situations quite often.

However, below are some of the most common roles and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant in any work setting.

#1. Communication with patients, relatives, and caregivers.

Communicating with patients and making them feel comfortable is part of your job. Always keep in mind that you can be talking to sick or vulnerable people who tend to feel segregated from the world.

So be sure to put on a smiley face and speak with an open heart. Sometimes, a big part of a person’s recovery is just expressing their emotions and having someone beside them who will try to understand them well and listen.

#2. Serving meals and feeding patients.

HCAs have to serve meals to patients and take care of their dietary needs. Sometimes, a dietitian can be consulted to be worked with. Other times, some patients may not feed themselves, so an HCA is needed to perform these roles in the absence of a nurse

A female nurse holding assisting an old woman to walk

Image Credit: Canva (Nurse holding an old woman)

#3. Helping with making beds, toileting, and moving around.

If you are working as a healthcare assistant, these responsibilities are a must for you to perform every day. First, you must ensure that your patient has comfortable bedding because you are responsible for making them comfortable.

Secondly, with toileting, some elderly or disabled patients have issues going to the toilet alone, and thus, they would require some assistance. Even patients who have recently had surgery might need assistance to get to the bathroom or bathe.

Similarly, patients with such mobility issues would need someone else’s help to walk around and do anything alone. So, as a healthcare assistant, you should always be there for a patient’s support whenever they require it.

#4. Assisting with Clinical Duties.

As a healthcare assistant, you work alongside doctors, nurses, and surgeons. So you can be tasked with performing some clinical duties, which include:

  • Checking vitals
  • Administering medication
  • Managing records
  • Phlebotomy
  • Assisting with procedures
  • Clinical responsibility
  • Collecting laboratory specimens
  • Maintaining exam rooms
  • Maintaining patient confidentiality
  • Performing diagnostic tests

#5. Frequent Health checkups.

It is your job to make sure that all patients’ regular health checkups are maintained and supervised during your shifts. Some of these regular checkups include the following:

  • Personal care includes infection prevention and control and personal hygiene.
  • Monitoring body temperatures
  • Checking pulse rates
  • Encouraging regular exercise
  • Checking blood pressure levels
  • Checking weight and height
  • Tracking the menstrual cycle in women (especially during pregnancy or after delivery)
  • Checking blood glucose levels (especially for diabetic patients)
  • Checking oxygen levels
  • Checking the recovery of any cuts or stitches (especially after surgeries)

#6. Checking and ordering supplies.

Hospitals or nursing homes can run out of supplies‌. But, unlike all other industries, the health sector is way too sensitive. As a healthcare assistant, there should not be any situation where they run out of supplies suddenly.

It is the job of an HCA to always stock up on supplies and monitor them to prevent problems so that the hospital or nursing home can be ready to accept a patient and provide proper treatment.

#7. Supporting nurses and doctors

Healthcare assistants work closely with nurses and doctors, providing support for routine procedures such as dressing changes, catheterization, and wound care. You may also assist with more complex procedures, such as surgery, under the supervision of a licensed professional.

Relevant: 20 Entry-Level Healthcare Interview Questions to Ask Employer

Skills Required to Become a Healthcare Assistant

Becoming a healthcare assistant requires some basic skills to perform your duties efficiently. To work in the healthcare industry, you must meet the following basic qualifications:

  • Compassion and empathy: Healthcare assistants must be able to understand and respond to the needs of patients with sensitivity and care.
  • Communication skills: You need to communicate effectively with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Organizational skills: HCAs often juggle multiple tasks and need to prioritize and manage their time effectively.
  • Physical stamina: The job can be physically demanding, as HCAs may need to help patients move and lift objects.
  • Attention to detail: HCAs need to be observant and pay close attention to changes in patients’ conditions.

Other skills include:

  • Adaptability
  • Physical stamina
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Patience
  • Confidentiality

Career Advancement Opportunities

Working as a healthcare assistant can be a stepping stone to a more advanced career in healthcare. With additional education and training, you can advance your career into becoming licensed practical nurses, or registered nurses, or pursue other healthcare-related positions and increase your earning potential.


Watch YouTube videos about what it’s like to be a healthcare assistant.

Conclusion on Duties of a Healthcare Assistant

Healthcare assistants play an essential role in the healthcare system, providing valuable support to patients and allowing nurses and other healthcare professionals to focus on more complex tasks. They are compassionate caregivers who make a real difference in the lives of the people they care for.

If you are interested in a healthcare career, becoming a healthcare assistant is a great option. It is a rewarding career that offers opportunities for growth and advancement.

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