Working in Skilled Nursing Versus A Hospital as a CNA

Prestige Care caregiver sitting with a resident at one of the Prestige Care locations

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) can work in a variety of settings, with hospitals and skilled nursing centers being two of the most popular career choices. But what are the differences between the two? And how do you decide between which work environment suits your preferences and skills?

To help you better understand the two settings, we’ve put together an overview of each as well as differences between the two.

Job Duties of a CNA In a Skilled Nursing Center:

Because patients typically stay longer at skilled nursing centers than at hospitals, a larger portion of a CNA’s job responsibilities involve helping residents with daily living activities. These daily responsibilities can include:

  • Assistance with mobility
  • Assistance with eating
  • Monitoring patient vital signs
  • Learning patient preferences and needed level of support
  • Assistance with personal hygiene and bathing
  • Answering patient calls and requests

Job Duties of a CNA In a Hospital:

Because hospitals are intended for short term stays, CNAs spend more time assisting nurses and other medical professionals (i.e. physical therapists and doctors). While these shorter stays expose CNAs to a wider variety of patient conditions and age ranges, they can also increase administrative tasks, such as data entry, and answering phones.  

Comparison of Primary Job Factors

One of the biggest differences between the two roles is the relationship with patients. The longer-term care at a skilled nursing center allows for CNAs to form rapport and bonds with patients over a period of time. At a skilled nursing center, CNAs can settle into their job duties by becoming accustomed to the needs and personalities of their patients. In addition, CNAs in a skilled setting tend to spend more time, on average, with their patients than those who work in a hospital.

At hospitals, CNAs are typically exposed to a larger variety of patients, and the fast-paced environment may offer more opportunity to assist with emergency care (like administering CPR). In addition, the high patient turnover at hospitals leads to diversity on shift for CNAs, where each day is rarely the same.

Bottom line: CNAs who prefer building relationships with their patients may prefer to work in a skilled nursing setting.

Choosing the Right Career Path

Now that you know some of differences in the work settings, the biggest factor in deciding where to work is which is the best fit for you. Here are a couple of general questions you can ask yourself to help start your evaluation process on which career path is right for you:

  1. Where are you most comfortable working?

Understanding workplace dynamics and knowing where you will be most comfortable can help you decide which environment is a better fit for you, your career goals, and skillset. Don’t be afraid to reach out to both hospitals and skilled centers and speak with a recruiter to learn more about the workplace dynamics of both. Speaking with a recruiter will help answer simple questions you may have about workplace, culture, benefits and more.

  1. Where do you think you will thrive?

Think about where you feel you will be most successful. If you like being on the go from day to day, the fast-paced environment of a hospital might be a good fit for you. But if you prefer building longer-term relationships with both patients and your team with a group of people that feel like family, a skilled nursing center might be the right choice for you.

Next Steps

At Prestige Care, we proudly own and operate over 30 skilled nursing centers across the Pacific Northwest. If you feel that working in a skilled setting is the right fit for you, or even if you’d like to learn more about our nursing opportunities, we’d love to speak with you!

Visit or reach out directly to our Recruiting Team at to learn more. We look forward to speaking with you and sharing why Prestige is a great place to work.