Recognizing the critical role nursing assistants play in the lives of long-term care residents, CareTracker by Resource Systems, in conjunction with The American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC), is sponsoring the Nursing Assistant of the Year Scholarship Award. This award will give nursing assistants who are currently enrolled or are planning to enroll in a degree program the opportunity to receive financial assistance to help offset education expenses. Nominations are due no later than Jan. 31, 2009.
The Nursing Assistant of the Year Scholarship program provides the winning nursing assistant with a $5,000 scholarship to help offset continuing education expenses in the nursing field. In addition, two other finalists will receive $500 scholarships and the facilities from which finalists are chosen will also receive a donation to their training or continuing education funds. The winner will be announced at the AANAC National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, in March 2009. “AANAC is proud to be working with CareTracker to provide recognition to outstanding nursing assistants throughout the country,” Diane Carter, president/CEO of AANAC says.
Long-term care providers face tremendous challenges each day trying to provide high-quality care to residents. According to a March 2007 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nursing assistants make up an estimated 24.7% (593,490) of the over 2.4 million paraprofessional workers in nursing facilities. Since nursing assistants primarily provide hands-on assistance to residents with activities of daily living (ADLs), they are key players in determining the quality of care. While the significance of the nursing assistant’s role has become more recognized by long-term care professionals, nursing assistants often experience stressful working conditions, have little career mobility, and are among the lowest-paid workers in the healthcare field.
“It has been estimated that nearly 80% to 90% of all direct care provided to residents in long-term care facilities is provided by nursing assistants,” Carter says. Nursing assistants must be proficient in a variety of skills or learned tasks used in helping patients with ADLs and providing bedside care. They are responsible for checking vital signs; assisting residents in performing a series of range-of-motion exercises that flex the joints of their arms, wrists, legs, fingers, hips, and feet; and providing oral, hair, and nail care to ensure proper resident hygiene. Nursing assistants “must have a strong grasp of emergency procedures and be able to stay calm in stressful situations as well,” Carter says.