What is the Difference between a Nursing Aide and a Registered Nurse?

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There are some significant differences in the training and job duties between a nursing aide and a registered nurse. Hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices and nursing homes need all levels of nurses.

The differences between a nursing aide and a registered nurse are listed below.


Nursing Aide: Training is rarely a normal a degree program. There are several certificate programs that give the required training to become certified.  Training can be found at the Red Cross, community colleges, online schools and through medical facilities. To become certified, a nursing aide needs to take and pass an examination. Many medical facilities have training programs available.

Registered Nurses: This requires considerably more training.  An rn to bsn degree is a 4-year program during which the nurse may decide to specialize in a number of areas such as pediatric, geriatric, psychiatric, home health nurse, cardiac, orthopedic or oncology nurse.

Job Duties:

Nursing Aide: Jobs can vary by the type of place they work but often involve the some of the following duties. Nursing aide’s help fulfill basic quality of life needs for patients such as handling the basic patient care (ex: Bathing, dressing, feeding and monitoring patients). They gather vital information and give that information to a supervisor. Nursing aide’s also assist with tests and procedures as well as the movement of patient’s from one area to another.

Registered Nurse:  Jobs involve providing the upper level medical care that patients need. Under a doctor’s orders, registered nurses carry out a wide variety of duties. Registered nurses help assess the patient’s condition and can help in developing a diagnosis. Nurses handle the most complex nursing assignments as well as patient education. Registered nurses work as part of the health care team with other medical professionals. Registered nurses who specialize become a top member of the medical team.

Job Demand:

Nursing Aide: Jobs are expected to grow in the coming years. Because a large part of the job involves patient hands-on-care and the need for aides will grow. A number of nursing aide’s get into the medical field and decide they want more training so they can take more complex tasks. This leaves a number of jobs open when they move up or leave for further training.

Registered Nurse: They are very much in demand. Many facilities are making work schedules that will appeal to registered nurses who are looking for part time work or weekend work or night work. Registered nurses are the backbone of hospitals and care facilities.

Both of these jobs are a great way to get into the healthcare field. There are many schools, traditional and online, that can help get a person interested in nursing on their way to a very satisfying career. An added bonus is that there’s considerable job security for both nursing aides and registered nurses.


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