Is Health Care Assistant a Nurse? What You Need To Know

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Are you wondering if being a health care assistant means being a nurse as well? If so, you are not alone. There is often confusion about the differences between Health Care Assistants and Nurses, as many people assume they are the same.

Health care assistants and nurses both have important roles in medicine, but they have different duties and responsibilities. Despite their similarities, there is a clear distinction between these medical professionals in terms of duties and responsibilities

This article provides an overview of what a health care assistant does versus what a nurse does, so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Read on to discover about some major differences between a health care assistant and a nurse, and find out which one is best suited for you!

What is a health care assistant?

A health care assistant (HCA) is a specialized medical profession that provides direct nursing and personal medical care services to patients of all ages. Health Care Assistants typically work in hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, private residences, rehabilitation facilities, and other healthcare settings. 

HCAs are highly trained professionals that provide direct patient care under the direction and supervision of qualified physicians or nurses. They are required to have a comprehensive knowledge of basic medical concepts and practices as well as excellent communication skills for interacting with patients and their families.

What is a nurse?

A nurse is a trained medical professional who provides care and support to individuals, families, and communities in various healthcare settings. They are responsible for assessing patients, developing and implementing care plans, administering medications and treatments, monitoring and recording vital signs, and providing education and emotional support to patients and their families.

In addition to this, they work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide high-quality patient care and help patients achieve optimal health outcomes. Furthermore, nurses can specialize in various fields such as pediatrics, oncology, mental health, and emergency care, among others.

Roles & Responsibilities of Health Care Assistant

The role of an HCA is to provide basic medical care and services in a wide range of settings. Below are some of the roles and responsibilities that a health care assistant may be asked to perform:

  • Fulfilling patient’s basic needs
  • Observing and Reporting
  • Administrative and Clerical Tasks
  • Measure, record, and report vital signs
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Roles & Responsibilities of a nurse:

Among various responsibilities, a nurse is expected to know how to perform the following duties:

  • Assess patients’ health status and medical history
  • Make and implement care plans
  • Administer medications and treatments as prescribed by physicians
  • Monitor and record blood pressure and heart rate,
  • Maintain up-to-date medical records

The difference between a nurse and a health care assistant

Nurses and health care assistants both provide a vital role in providing patient care and support. However, there are some important distinctions between the two occupations.

1. Must be registered with their local regulatory body to practice professionally. Do not need to possess any specific type of tertiary qualification to work in this field.
2. Perform tasks related to patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Focus primarily on assisting patients with daily activities such as personal hygiene and feeding.
3. Authorized to perform a wide range of medical procedures and interventions. Not authorized to perform complex medical procedures or interventions.
4. Nurses have a high degree of autonomy in making decisions about patient care Do not have the same level of autonomy in making decisions about patient care.
5. Typically earn a higher salary Generally earn a lower salary

Salary of a health care assistant:

According to payscale.com, health care assistants earned an average hourly wage of $19.72, and this figure has been steadily increasing over the years and is likely to continue doing so as more people seek medical attention as a result of advancements in healthcare technology. 

Salary of a nurse:

The average nurse salary in Canada is $71,894 per year or $36.87 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $57,387 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $87,755 per year. https://ca.talent.com/salary?job=nurse.

Job outlook for an HCA

Health care assistants are in high demand and their job outlook is positive. There are numerous opportunities available in this field due to the ever-increasing demand for health care assistance across all levels of medical treatment. 

This means that those with competent education and qualifications can easily find employment within hospitals, private practices, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, or other related fields where they can utilize their skills to assist medical staff with providing quality service to patients. 

The job outlook for health care assistants will remain promising for years ahead – especially considering advancements such as telemedicine, and home healthcare services expanding access even further from traditional brick-and-mortar facilities – making it an attractive career option for many individuals seeking steady employment within the healthcare industry.

Job Outlook for a nurse

 The demand for healthcare services is expected to continue to increase due to population growth, aging of the population, and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases. As a result, there will be a continued need for nursing professionals to provide care and support thus resulting in a highly positive job outlook.

According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nationwide, employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow 9 percent in this next decade, which will equate to an addition of 276,800 new nursing jobs. https://www.goodwin.edu/enews/nursing-job-outlook/


Therefore, it can be concluded that a healthcare assistant is not a nurse. Healthcare assistants work under the supervision of nurses and other healthcare professionals, providing basic care and assistance to patients. Nurses, on the other hand, have completed a nursing degree and are responsible for the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of patient care. They have a more advanced level of clinical knowledge and expertise than healthcare assistants. Thus, such major differences in roles and responsibilities differ a healthcare assistant from a nurse.


What qualifications do I need to become a health care assistant in Canada?

To become a health care assistant in Canada, you will need to have a relevant post-secondary education related to the job you are applying for. In British Columbia, this includes completing or working towards completion of the Health Care Assistant Program at a recognized institution such as Vancouver Community College or BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology).

What is the average salary of a health care assistant in Canada?

According to payscale.com, health care assistants earned an average hourly wage of $19.72 in 2019 and this figure is likely to continue increasing as more people seek medical attention.

What is the average salary of a nurse in Canada?

According to data from PayScale, the average hourly wage for a registered nurse in Canada is approximately $33

Are there any certifications required to work as a health care assistant?

Some employers may require you to be certified to work as a health care assistant. Depending on the specific role, certifications can include First Aid and CPR, Food Safe Level 1 certification, and completion of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice Certified Home Health Aide Program. Check with your local health authority to find out which certifications are required for specific roles.

Are there any certifications required to work as a nurse?

Yes, becoming a nurse requires certain certifications such as accredited nursing programs, registered license (NCLEX-RN or CPNRE), additional certifications such as Advanced Cardiac Life support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) or Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) certifications.

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