Attendant, Cart Attendant, Clinical Support Associate, Emergency Room Orderly, Health Service Worker   More Names
Hospice Entrance Attendant, Hospital Corpsman, Hospital Orderly, Infirmary Attendant, Institutional Aide, Medical Orderly, New Patient Escort, Operating Room Assistant, Operating Room Orderly, Orderlies, Orderly, Patient Care Assistant (PCA), Patient Care Associate, Patient Care Technician (PCT), Patient Escort, Patient Sitter, Patient Transport Orderly, Patient Transporter, Psychiatric Orderly, Radiology Orderly, Radiology Transporter, Resident Assistant, Security Orderly, Surgical Orderly, Transportation Aide, Transporter, Ward Aide, Ward Assistant, Ward Attendant, Ward Helper

Carry out the routine, hands-on work in the general care of patients under the direction of supervisory nurses and medical staff. Tasks vary, but usually include feeding, bathing, and dressing, grooming, and moving patients.

They answer patients' call signals and provide needed assistance, including getting help from registered nurses and doctors when required. They help patients walk and exercise plus move in and out of bed and transport them to treatment units such as radiology or surgery using a wheelchair or stretcher. Other duties included cleaning rooms and changing bed linens.

Most orderlies work for privately-owned hospitals, nursing homes, or residential assisted living facilities, with the rest mainly employed by local or state medical and nursing facilities. When working in hospitals, they usually are part of an overall patient care team that also includes regular and specialty registered nurses as well as assigned physicians or surgeons. In these settings, they are supervised by one or several licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), or other medical staff.

When working in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, orderlies often are the primary caregivers who have more contact with residents than any other staff members. Because some residents will stay in long-term care facilities for months or years, orderlies sometimes develop special caring relationships with their patients.

Orderlies often work a rotating shift since their patients require round-the-clock care and monitoring. As a result, orderlies work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Their care and monitoring tasks can include observing patients' conditions, measuring and recording food and liquid intake, watching and recording vital signs readings, and alerting professional staff about any changes.

On a day-to-day basis, orderlies answer patient's calls for assistance, deliver messages, serve meals, make beds and tidy up rooms. They also help other medical staff to set-up equipment, store and move supplies, and assist with other similar requests. Some also have to perform somewhat more unpleasant duties such as emptying bedpans and changing soiled bed linens.

Orderlies and nursing assistants often perform the same or very similar tasks and duties. The difference in the exact job description between these two occupations often is decided by the particular needs and requirements of an employer.

Advancement opportunities for orderlies are usually limited, but the willingness to get more education and training in fields such as nursing, for example, can lead to careers as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN). Because they understand the primary care needs and problems of patients, experienced orderlies also can become good supervisors.

Credentials Needed: There are Federal rules for orderlies who work in nursing care facilities. Candidates must complete a minimum of 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency exam. Those who complete this training and pass the exam are eligible to become state-licensed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) provided that they meet other state qualification requirements. These usually include a criminal background check and a medical physical exam to ensure that the candidate is in good health. There also are a number of industry-based skill certifications which individuals may choose to obtain to help demonstrate their competency in this occupation.

Some Key Things to Remember: Orderlies often are employed by private, for-profit or non-profit hospitals, nursing homes, or residential assisted living facilities. Employers require a minimum of a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalent to obtain an entry-level job as a nursing assistant. Those who want to work in a nursing care facility must complete a state-approved program of study that leads to licensing as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
11% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $22,150 - $33,290    Hourly: $11 - $16
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

11% - Average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $22,150 - $33,290

Hourly: $11 - $16