CNA- Covering the Basics

Certified Nurse’s Assistants are valued members of the medical community. They provide very important services to medical facilities; they simply couldn’t operate without them. But, did you know that there are several different types of CNA? Though the titles and job duties vary by state and even locality, a CNA has several choices when it comes to the way they want to specialize in their occupation or even how they market themselves.

The first decision that a CNA must make is what type of facility they would like to work in. Obviously, different places of employment will have varied types of orientation, and many do offer on the job training for practices specific to their environment. But an enterprising CNA who is willing to put in some extra work and possibly take extra classes can find themselves in much better positions and quite possibly even promotions that can come with pay raises and better benefits.

Some states have different categories for CNAs, levels which determine the types of care that they are able to dispense. Some states will allow higher levels of CNAs to hand out medicines or perform other more important tasks, like catheterizations. Should you want to take classes or use your experience to move up in the CNA ranks, check with your place of employment about available positions. Some facilities will even foot or split the bill for your education for a commitment of employment. As some states have continuing education requirements, you may already be required to take additional classes, so adding a few extra to not only renew your certification but to extend your experience and capability is a plus. Taking these extra courses on your own also shows your employer that you have the ability to take the initiative, and your efforts will likely be appreciated.

Some areas also have specialized training for specific types of facilities and, if you can take these training courses in your spare time, you will double or triple your ability to work in multiple facilities and situations.

You will also be more qualified to help patients and will be more knowledgeable in certain situations. Because you can handle more responsibility with the extra schooling, you may find yourself in a position to receive a pay raise. Your education plus your experience will also make you more attractive to prospective employers. It’s always great to be in demand!

What To Expect On The Job as a CNA?

CNAs have a very demanding job where you may be on your feet all day. It is also possible that you may be lifting a lot of weight throughout the day in order to perform your job duties. Your job duties will be determined by the facility you are employed at. However, there are some similar tasks at all these facilities we can list here to give you a better idea of what to expect. Now that you are an aide to the nurses, you should expect registered nurses to give you job duties throughout the day and ask for your help when they need it.

At times you may be asked to administer medication or treatments, which have been pre-measured by the nurse or doctor. You may also be required to put in catheters, suppositories, irrigation, enemas, or give massages.

At all times you are the patient’s aide and responsible for their personal hygiene, which means you will bathe, groom, shave, dress, or prep your patients for surgery. You will clean rooms, change the bedding and help the patient to the bathroom or on walks if they require it.

Depending on the care facility you may prepare, serve, and collect the food trays. Some facilities like hospitals have food service workers who bring, serve, and collect the food. Any patient call signals will be answered by you.

You will help the patient exercise, transport them to different parts of the facility and assist bedridden patients. Bedridden patients can develop bed sores if they are not moved around enough, so you may have to turn or reposition them for their comfort.

CNAs are part of the medical team, which means they are there to help, do what is asked, and help out in any way they can. You may have to answer phones, direct visitors, deliver messages, samples, or documents. It is also possible that you will be asked to explain medical instructions to both family and patients.

Overall, job duties entail that you monitor your patient’s condition by measuring and recording food, liquid intake, and output, vital signs, and report any worrying changes. There are clinical duties in any facility because you need to maintain a patient’s health and observe their changes, which require you to record the data. Furthermore, there will be times you might have to restrain patients if they become difficult to handle where you, they, or another person would be in danger of injury.

Are You Right For this Job?

Working as a certified nurse assistant is tough work, both physically and emotionally. Are you tough enough in both aspects to handle the job? Many new aides find that they are unable to work in the field for long, while others spend years working as CNAs and newer CNAs find these veterans to appear jaded.

The reason many CNAs that have been in the business for a few years seem jaded or even unemotional is that the job takes a toll on you. Many aides build emotional walls in order to continue working without having an emotional breakdown. It is a fact that people you care for will often move out of a facility to another or will even pass away. Sometimes they will pass on while your are on duty. Becoming attached to residents is inevitable for many CNAs, coping with the grief of losing a resident you care for on an emotional level can be devastating if you are not prepared to cope with this eventual outcome.

Often, new aides wonder if they have the ability to deal with the physical aspects of the job. There is a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling involved in the daily routine of a CNA. You will work not only lifting people, but in moving machinery such as lifts throughout your facility. It is important to be in good physical condition.

You will also face infectious disease. Part of working in any healthcare facility is contact with people that have infectious disease. These infections range from the common cold up to the AIDS virus. You must always be ready to deal with this by using proper barrier gear such as gowns, gloves, masks, and more.

Something that is not often talked about when you sign on to become a CNA is that you will deal with what most people consider ‘gross’ things daily. Urine, feces, vomit, and more. Nurse aides perform care for people that are unable to go to the bathroom or clean up after themselves. You must have or be able to develop a strong stomach. You should never appear to be in disgust when caring for a resident or patient that has soiled their body, clothing, or bed. They are already upset enough by losing control of their body functions, showing distaste towards your job will only further their shame and sadness.

Before you enter work each day, take a few moments to ready your mind. This can be accomplished by arriving to work a few minutes early and spending time in a break area with co-workers, reading in your car, or just by walking to work if you live close enough.

Who You Will be Working With?

A lot of websites will talk about patients you may be working with as a certified nursing assistant, or the family members who may ask questions about the care you are providing for loved ones. But as many curriculum hours stress, a certified nursing assistant works with a number of other people in order to provide quality care. Here’s a brief primer on just a few of those people, and what they do:

1. Physicians, doctors and physicians assistants are at the top of the food chain, so to speak. They have several years of post-graduate schooling as well as time as an intern. They are qualified to make advanced medical decisions, perform a number of procedures and are generally the top-line medical professionals for advanced care.

2. Dietitians and physical therapists are specialists who perform a role that helps those people who are in need of specific rehabilitative care. Certified nursing assistants may be asked to interview patients to ensure they are maintaining the right food intake, and they may help patients perform exercises in line with the recommendations of a physical therapist.

3. Social workers are more involved with the community aspect of a rehabilitative or nursing facility. They may help find policy options for residents that require the aid of certified nursing assistant. CNAs may also work with social workers to provide enrollment or other information to improve resident’s accessibility to various initiatives.

4. Home health aides and other staff members at nursing facilities also play a critical role and are likely the staff members that certified nursing assistants will interact with the most. The skills and duties of these roles overlap to a large degree, however CNAs must have more healthcare experience and will likely perform more tests and other work with patients.

5. Administrative and training staff are not necessarily seen often by patients, but they are critical to the upkeep of most facilities. Expect these staff to help with ensuring that you as a certified nursing assistant remain within the regulations, fill out forms exactly and make sure that everything is in tip top shape.

Becoming CNA is Life Changing

Every day when you work as a nurse aide you have new experiences. One day you may meet the grandmother or mother of a famous person. The next you may have a run of the mill day just changing soiled linens. Still the next day you may find yourself giving the final bath to a resident that has passed away.

Nurse aides experience many different types of situations that can change their lives. Working in this field gives you a larger understanding of how people feel and act when they are ill or disabled. It takes a compassionate soul to work with the old and even the dying.

As you spend time with these people, your view on life will expand. It becomes very clear that life is not quite as long as we humans think it is, that disability can strike anyone, and that youth is fleeting. But the joy of working in service to those that need is is life changing.

How often do you wake up and want to go to work? Some people can say that they wish they had never become an aide, others may say they wish they never stopped working in the field. It is truly a strange job – you either love it or you hate it. Those who love the job will forever stand in awe at the achievements they have made.

It may seem strange to think of working as a CNA as an accomplishment. It really is, though. Every day you have an effect on those around you. Someone who is in failing health can be made to feel a bit better by your care. An elderly man or woman that is depressed can be made happier by the touch of your hand or a smile.

While you may think that you just change briefs or feed people – you are creating a better life for the residents in your care. Some of these residents may not have family and you, along with your fellow staff, are these resident’s link to life. To social living. To happiness. You are their family and by spending your days with these people at the end of their lives, you are enriching your own.