Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (NOC 3413)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates assist nurses, hospital staff and physicians in the basic care of patients.

Want to learn more? Watch this WorkBC Career Trek video and see what it’s like to work in this type of career.


Patient care attendant

People in these occupations:

  • work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, group homes, home support and community care
  • need physical stamina and strong interpersonal skills to carry out the regular duties associated with this occupation
  • should be sensitive and patient to create a comfortable environment for patients
  • have excellent observational skills
  • should be able to adapt to constantly changing environments and carefully follow direction, policy and procedure
  • need to be fluent in English
Common job titles
  • aide, geriatric
  • aide, nursing
  • aide, respite care
  • assistant, continuing care
  • assistant, environmental - medical
  • assistant, health care


Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates:

  • answer call signals; supply and empty bed pans; bathe, dress and groom patients; serve meal trays, feed or assist in feeding of patients and assist patients with menu selection; weigh, lift, turn, and position patients; shave patients prior to operations; supervise patients' exercise routines, set up and provide leisure activities for patients, accompany patients on outside recreational activities and perform other duties related to patient care and comfort
  • take patients' blood pressure, temperature and pulse; report or record fluid intake and output; observe or monitor patients' status and document patient care on charts; administer first aid in emergency situations; collect specimens such as urine, faeces or sputum; administer suppositories, colonic irrigations and enemas and perform other procedures as directed by nursing and hospital staff
  • transport patients by wheelchair or stretcher for treatment or surgery
  • carry messages, reports, requisitions and specimens between departments
  • make beds and maintain patients' rooms
  • maintain inventory of supplies
  • may perform maintenance tasks such as assisting with the set-up and maintenance of traction equipment, cleaning or sterilizing equipment, maintaining and repairing equipment, and assembling, setting-up and operating job-related equipment
  • may transport patients between care facilities.

Work environment

Resident care aides work in hospital wards or residential long-term care facilities. Shifts are usually 8–12 hours long and full-time employees work 36–40 hours per week, often on weekends, holidays or evenings. On-call and part-time work is common.

Work can be physically demanding, with constant standing, walking and lifting. The use of patient lifts (hoists) have significantly reduced worksite injuries.

Resident care aides are also prone to stress and fatigue as a result of working with sick and disabled patients. Workers may be exposed to infectious diseases or toxic chemicals, and to violent behaviour from patients with mental illnesses. 

Insights from industry

Strong demand for resident care aides is contributing to higher salaries and increased opportunities to work in various environments.

The provincial government is increasing the number of long-term care beds available in B.C., which will create more employment opportunities. Employment opportunities will be high throughout the province, especially in nursing homes, long-term care facilities and privately run institutions.

In part because of general shortages of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, resident care aides are increasingly being employed in acute care settings.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Some people may work as health care aides or practical nurses before beginning education for registered nursing.

Registered nurses typically start in an entry level position in a medical or surgical unit.

Increasingly, new graduates are finding employment in community health and specialty areas where new graduates were not previously hired until they gained experience.

With additional certification, registered nurses may specialize in areas such as emergency care, oncology, psychiatric care, critical care, pediatrics, geriatrics, palliative care, rehabilitation or occupational health.

With experience and additional education, nurses can become clinical nurses, nurse educators, nurse managers, care coordinators, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners.

Registered nurses may progress to supervisory and managerial positions with experience and additional courses.

Additional resources