Similar Titles

Certified Medication Aide (CMA), Certified Nurse Aide (CNA), Certified Nurses Aide (CNA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA), Nurses' Aide, Nursing Aide, Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Assistant (PCA), State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA)

Job Description

After a serious injury or long illness, patients often lose strength, coordination, and cognitive function and need help getting back to their normal lives. That’s where Restorative Nursing Assistants (RNAs) come into play!

RNAs specialize in restorative therapeutic care, assisting recovering patients to regain physical and cognitive capabilities through mobility exercises and activities. They work in a range of long-term settings, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, performing tasks under the guidance of licensed nurses and therapists.

RNAs follow their patient’s rehabilitation plans, ensure patient safety and comfort, monitor and document progress, and communicate with the rest of the healthcare team so that plans can be adjusted, as needed. Their important work contributes greatly to the well-being of patients who are seeking to regain as much independence as possible. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Making an impact on the health, life spans, and daily quality of life of patients
  • Helping patients regain independence to perform daily tasks 
  • Growing demand in the healthcare field
  • Numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule
Restorative Nursing Assistants may work part-time or full-time. Shifts may include nights, weekends, or holidays.

Typical Duties
“An RNA is an advanced CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant],” writes Indeed. Thus there can be some overlap of duties between the two professions, depending on the setting and situation.

  • Assist with therapeutic range-of-motion exercises, ambulation training, and other activities prescribed by physical or occupational therapists
  • Support patients with personal hygiene (i.e., bathing, grooming, using the toilet) and dressing as they work toward independence and rehabilitation goals
  • Serve meals and help patients eat, paying attention to the dietary needs of their care plan
  • Help patients transfer between beds and wheelchairs. Assist with walking and repositioning for comfort and therapeutic benefit
  • Monitor, record, and track patients’ progress in activities and exercises, noting changes in abilities or conditions
  • Report any patient condition changes to the supervising nurse for appropriate action
  • Provide companionship, support, and encouragement to patients working on restorative activities
  • Document responses to restorative treatments, exercise progress, and health concerns
  • Ensure effective communication between patients and healthcare professionals, including physical and occupational therapists, to ensure a cohesive approach to care
  • Advocate for patient needs and preferences
  • Suggest resources to learn more about nutrition and safety so patients can live healthier lives after being discharged
  • If trained and authorized, RNAs may also: 
  1. Assist with noninvasive medical procedures, such as dressing wounds
  2. Remind patients to take prescribed medications 
  3. Assist with the collection of urine or stool samples 
  4. Transport patients to appointments

Additional Responsibilities

  • Assist with training new RNAs, sharing knowledge and techniques specific to restorative care
  • Help set up and maintain equipment used for restorative exercises and activities
  • Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings to discuss and plan patient care
  • Assist with laundry, errands, and appointment scheduling
  • Help with discharging patients 
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Bedside manner
  • Compassion
  • Composure
  • Dependability
  • Detail-oriented
  • Emotional resilience 
  • Empathy
  • Integrity 
  • Interpersonal skills 
  • Observant
  • Patience
  • Physical stamina
  • Relationship-building
  • Reliability
  • Safety conscious 
  • Sound judgment 
  • Strong communication skills
  • Teamwork and collaboration

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of rehabilitation and restorative care techniques (i.e., exercises, mobility assistance, cognitive activities, etc.)
  • Understanding how to encourage independence during rehabilitation
  • Familiarity with hygiene, sterilization practices, and infection control in rehabilitation or long-term care settings
  • Proficiency in using/maintaining equipment for restorative care
  • Expertise in documenting and maintaining patient records 
  • Knowledge of common medical conditions in long-term care/rehabilitation settings
  • Understanding the roles of rehabilitation professionals such as physical and occupational therapists
Different Types of Organizations
  • Acute care hospitals
  • Alzheimer’s facilities
  • Assisted living centers
  • Community-based adult day care centers
  • Continuing care retirement communities
  • Government and community health agencies
  • Hospice care facilities
  • Hospitals rehabilitation units
  • Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)    
  • Nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Outpatient centers
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Specialized care facilities
  • Therapy departments
Expectations and Sacrifices

Restorative Nursing Assistants play a crucial role in the rehabilitation and ongoing care of patients facing challenges due to age, disability, or chronic conditions. RNAs help implement and monitor tailored restorative care plans, sometimes for multiple patients each day. This requires excellent organizational and prioritization skills, along with diligent record-keeping.

Assisting patients with mobility and therapeutic exercises can be physically demanding. Meanwhile, daily interactions with recovering or ill patients can be stressful and emotionally taxing at times. Thus, resilience, patience, and empathy are always necessary.

RNAs frequently work night, weekend, and holiday shifts, requiring adaptability and a flexible schedule. They must also find time to decompress and manage appropriate self-care to maintain their own mental and physical well-being and avoid burnout.

Current Trends

The healthcare sector, especially in long-term and rehabilitative care, is facing a shortage of trained professionals—including RNAs. This is partially due to America’s aging population living longer and thus needing more years of specialized care.

The shortage is exacerbated by millions of nurses retiring or preparing to retire, creating a shortage of teaching staff to train their own replacements. As a result, RNA training program applicants should be persistent and keep applying to programs if they happen to get turned down at first.

Online educational programs are doing their part to make learning more flexible and reduce barriers to accessible training. In the meantime, the rising workload is stretching the current nursing workforce thin, raising the importance of self-care to prevent fatigue, stress, or burnout. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

RNAs may have always been interested in physical activities and wanted to teach others about the long-term health benefits of exercise. In their younger years, they could have assisted loved ones who needed help due to age, injury, or illness. RNAs usually have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others, and the ability to motivate patients to stick with their care plans and overcome obstacles.

Education and Training Needed

Education Needed

  • To become an RNA, applicants generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, plus need to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) 
  1. Some employers may hire applicants who are close to obtaining their CNA certification
  • In addition to being a nursing assistant, RNA hopefuls must usually have relevant work experience (for example, six months of working as a CNA) and be in good standing with their respective state
  • RNA training programs may require a letter of recommendation from the director of nursing where the CNA applicant last worked
  • Qualified applicants can complete a state-approved RNA training program through a community college, vocational/technical school, nurse training school, or select four-year colleges. Some high schools offer CNA training courses to get a jump start on an RNA career
  1. Depending on the program, certain courses could be online, in-person, or via a hybrid method
  • Note, the number of training hours may vary by state, institution, and other factors  A typical program may include: 
  1. 30 hours of classroom and laboratory instruction, with written tests
  2. 30 hours of supervised clinical practice, depending on the student's exhibited abilities
  3. A practical exam to evaluate skills related to speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other skills 
  • Courses cover “various essential topics related to restorative care, including rehabilitation and its function, effects of aging, basic anatomy, diseases impacting mobility, promoting independence, resident transfers, ambulation, types of exercise, available restorative aide equipment, communication, and medical terminology”
  • Note, in some states, CNA certification involves passing an exam. In addition, some healthcare facilities have their own requirements 
  • RNA hopefuls must meet the same immunization requirements as a CNA (based on the demands of the state or employer), such as seasonal flu vaccination, Tdap, MMR, hepatitis B, varicella, and meningococcal
  • They may have to pass criminal background and drug screening. Also, employers must find no registry information concerning abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property
  • RNAs may complete optional credentials, such as:
  1. American Board of Wound Management’s Certified Wound Care Associate
  2. American Council on Exercise’s Functional Training Specialty Certification    
  3. American Medical Certification Association’s Patient Care Technician Certification    
  4. American Phlebotomy Association’s Patient Care Technician    
  5. American Red Cross Basic Life Support Certification    
  6. Certified Medication Assistant (CMA)
  7. Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association’s Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant
  8. National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service’s Intravenous Therapy Certification 
  9. National Center for Competency Testing’s Nationally Certified Patient Care Technician
  10. National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care’s Certified Alzheimer Caregiver
  11. National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s National Nurse Aide Assessment Program    
  12. National Healthcareer Association’s Certified Patient Care Technician/Assistant    
  13. Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America’s Seating and Mobility Specialist
Things to look for in an University

Restorative Nursing Assistants don’t have to attend training at a university. Training programs are available at community colleges, vocational/technical schools, nurse training schools, and select four-year colleges. In addition, CNA programs are offered in some high school programs. 

  • Review the exact CNA and RNA training and certification/licensure requirements for the state you plan to work for.
  • Consider tuition costs (in-state/out-of-state rates), discounts, scholarships, and course delivery options (on-campus, online, or hybrid program).
  • Look for accredited programs with strong reputations and high pass rates for state certification exams, as applicable.
  • Review the available options for hands-on training in local healthcare settings.
  • Consider the duration of the program and the flexibility of class schedules, especially if balancing other commitments.
  • Review faculty bios and awards. Learn about graduation rates and job placement stats. Peek at the accomplishments of the alumni network!
Things to do in High School and College
  • Volunteer in healthcare settings to gain exposure and pick up practical skills
  • Take classes in high school related to anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, physical education, nutrition, psychology, health sciences, first aid, math, and English
  • Earn good grades so you can get accepted into a suitable RNA training program
  • Develop a solid workout schedule so you build stamina and strength while managing stress
  • Maintain a healthy diet and regular meal schedule, to keep your energy levels consistent 
  • Participate in school activities where you can develop skills in project management, teamwork, leadership experience, and conflict resolution 
  • Think about the format you want to take RNA classes in. Some topics are fine for online study, but others need to be learned in person 
  • Research any unique state or potential employer requirements for becoming an RNA. Keep in mind that you may have to pass a criminal background check or drug screening
  • Request to do an informational interview with a working RNA to learn about their daily duties
  • Check out online articles and videos about the Restorative Nursing Assistant career field, the various settings you could work in, and extra certifications you may want to pursue!
  • Maintain a list of contacts (with phone numbers or emails) who might serve as future job references 
  • Keep a working draft of your resume and update it as you gain experience
Restorative Nursing Assistant
Restorative Nursing Assistant Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Once certified as a CNA to work in their respective states, and after RNA training has been completed, it’s time to explore job postings via sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, healthcare-specific job search sites, and the websites of applicable employers 
  • Note, many recruiters have established pipelines with local CNA and RNA training programs, so talk to your school’s program manager or career center about job placement assistance
  • Network with fellow healthcare professionals to learn about job opportunities. Don’t underestimate the power of “word of mouth” recruiting! 
  • Advertise yourself on LinkedIn and always keep your social media professional. Potential employers often screen candidates’ online activities
  • Check out Restorative Nursing Assistant resumes for ideas on formatting, phrasing, and keywords to use
  1. Keywords may include: Restorative care, patient rehabilitation, mobility assistance, range of motion exercises, ADL support (Activities of Daily Living), patient monitoring, care plan implementation, therapy assistance, medical terminology, patient safety, compassionate care, teamwork, documentation, patient education, communication skills, adaptive equipment use, regulatory compliance, patient assessments, interdisciplinary collaboration, infection control
  • Review potential interview questions to expect. Do several mock interviews to practice your responses
  • Exhibit a hearty and nurturing attitude that conveys your ability to physically and mentally handle the workload
  • Read about the strategies recruiters use, to gain a perspective of their mindset during interviews
  • Dress professionally for interviews
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Discuss your restorative care career goals with your supervisor. Ask for their guidance and mentorship
  • Build a reputation for exceptional patient care and engagement related to restorative practices
  • Familiarize yourself thoroughly with employer policies and procedures
  • Closely follow restorative care plans and protocols to ensure patient safety and comfort as they recover
  • Adhere strictly to sanitation and hygiene protocols
  • Maintain effective communication with patients, nurses, and other healthcare team members
  • Read journals and take continuing education courses to stay informed about the latest best practices
  • Consider pursuing additional qualifications to expand your options and opportunities! 
  • Study guides and manuals for equipment and software. Become a go-to subject matter expert
  • Demonstrate competence, integrity, reliability, initiative, professionalism, and leadership at all times
  • Share insights and techniques with fellow RNAs, and set the example to follow
  • Engage with professional organizations related to restorative and rehabilitative care
  • Attend and participate in events. Be proactive in establishing and building your professional standing within your network! 
Recommended Tools/Resources



  • Mosby’s Essentials for Nursing Assistants, by Leighann Remmert MS RN, and Sheila A. Sorrentino Ph.D. RN
  • Nursing Assistant: A Nursing Process Approach, by Barbara Acello and Barbara Hegner
  • Restorative Care: Fundamentals for the Certified Nursing Assistant, by Barbara Acello  
  • Restorative Care Nursing for Older Adults: A Guide For All Care Settings, by Elizabeth Galik Ph.D. CRNP, Ingrid Pretzer-Aboff Ph.D. RN, et al. 
Plan B

RNAs are critical members of the healthcare profession, but the job can be physically demanding at times. For students who are interested in other healthcare-related career types, there are many additional options to consider, such as: 

  • Home Health or Personal Care Aide
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Records Specialist
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nutritionist 
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Optometrist Assistant 
  • Personal Fitness Trainer and Instructor
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Physician Assistants    
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Recreation Worker 
  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Veterinarian Assistant 


Online Courses and Tools