I am still in undergrad, so the reason I became a CNA was to find a stable job I could do without the expertise of a grad school needed, and in this economy, CNAs are in demand. The course I took was an extensive, one week, 8 AM to 3 PM program. It cost around $150, and the exam cost another $135, but in the long run it was well worth it.
In this one week course we were taught all the necessary skills we would need as CNA’s, which included 21 “clinical skills”. These included skills such as range of motion, how to take blood pressure, how to properly transfer a resident, how to ambulate a resident, how to clean a catheter, how to take care of an incontinent female patient, one with weakness on the left side, etc. The course also taught us some simple but very important things such as hand washing and making a patients bed, which are more complicated & important in a hospital than they are in a home.
I’ve been a CNA for a month now, and over the past month I can safely say that it is not at all what I was expecting. Although many of my friends and subscribers had warned me that it was hard work, I didn’t expect it to be this difficult. The benefit is that it is helping me lose weight and keep my body in shape, but one fallout is that the hard work has begun to make my back hurt. My first day as a CNA I was extremely nervous, because it was my first experience in the medical field. I work in a nursing home, which was a fortunate first place to work, because everyone is nice, so I felt comfortable asking a lot of questions and learning a lot from them. My shift is the 7 AM to 3 PM shift, which is considered the busier shift, because it spans 2 meals. Where I work, each CNA is assigned 9 residents to take care of. The shift that leaves before me usually wakes 3 of my residents up, and then I have to wake up the other 6. Taking care of a resident is all encompassing??
You have to brush their hair, brush their teeth, shave them, sometimes shower them, get them dressed, clean up all of the linens in their room, make their bed, remake their bed if they wet it, and change a lot of feces.
Dressing a resident is difficult because you have to use a machine to do it, and you have to have another CNA there to legally use the machine?? Seriously, I’ve seen people lose their jobs over that.
Showering a resident is also a much more difficult process than it sounds like, because you have to use a variety of machines to get the patient out of bed, to get them into their chair, to get them out of their chair and into the shower, to get them out of the shower and dressed, and then again to get them into their chair.
You have to change a lot of feces. Today, my residents have had four bowel movements so far. One of them was so overwhelming that it got on her front and on her backside. It took a lot of cleaning.
In addition to taking care of your residents, as a CNA you also get various other assignments, which include getting certain patients vital signs for the day, take certain patients weights, take certain patient’s blood pressures, etc.
As a CNA you really have to do a lot. In addition to the aforementioned, you also have to make sure your residents get fed appropriately, record what they eat, record their bowel movements, and report any irregularity on your patient’s body. That last one, reporting things to your superiors, is very important. If you don’t report a scratch or mark on your resident, you can be held accountable for it, and someone may try to take advantage of your liability for it. You really have to report a lot to your superior, your charge nurse? I’ve been in situations before where residents have been inappropriate with me, called me racial slurs, names, and even threatened to lie to get me fired. If I hadn’t documented and reported these situations I could’ve been fired unfairly.
Another facet of being a CNA is your personal relationships with the elderly people. Some of the residents are angry? There are some very, very angry old people. Sometimes some of the residents who are more out of it will say mean things to you, and you have to just get past it, and brush it off. No matter their temperament, you have to be compassionate, because they are all human beings. Negative interaction aside, there are also the residents that are so sweet that you just think to yourself, if I could invite them over for dinner, I would. It just breaks your heart sometimes to see these people in pain, which is why you have to try not to get too emotionally attached to them, because some of the residents will inevitably pass away, which, thankfully, is not something I have had to deal with firsthand yet.
To reiterate, the workload of being a CNA is lot. On my daily shift from 6:45 until I leave at 3:15, I get two, 15 minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch break. Some people get so caught up in their work that they don’t take their two breaks? I don’t allow myself to do that. If you don’t take occasional breaks, you get burnout, and you get so overwhelmingly stressed out that you can’t function. However, even with the breaks, it’s still an overwhelming workload. That’s why I haven’t been doing a lot of videos lately, because of how busy I am. Being a CNA is a very tiresome job. Your body goes through a lot of pains, but you need to always be aware and attentive to your duties.
CNAs also need to pay attention to the specifics of each resident. Some of them need a machine to get out of bed, some need two people’s assistance to be lifted; some are more independent, etc. You need to know what the needs of each patient is so that you can take care of them properly. In addition, if it so happens that a resident needs a two person assist to be lifted and you are the only person in the room with them, and they fall on you while you try and lift them, you can be held liable for any injuries.
The pay for being a CNA is pretty good. Although I don’t want to discuss my wage in detail, I’ll say this? The wage you get depends on the facility you are working in and your previous experience. As I started with no prior experience, my starting wage was the base minimum. However, some facilities, including mine, have these things called differentials, where you can get an inflated wage per hour if you work undesirable shifts, such as the late night or weekend shifts. All new CNAs should look into that.
To conclude, after one month of being a CNA, although it’s a lot of immensely difficult work, I like it. The pay is decent, I enjoy being around elderly people, and I’m learning a lot and asking a lot of questions.
- Note- Image above is not of the writer!