It’s no secret that being a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) is one of the most challenging but rewarding lines of work out there. As both nursing students and veteran nurses know, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting to care for multiple patients during long shifts with frequent changes in assignments. But despite its stressful nature, CNA positions are essential to providing quality healthcare within our hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities.
So what makes this job so difficult, and how can you make it easier on yourself? In this blog post, we’ll explore why being a CNA is hard – and provide tips on managing the challenges that come along with the gig better.
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What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?
A Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, is a medical professional who works closely with registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to provide patient care. CNAs typically work in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, and assist with patients’ everyday needs, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.
Additionally, they may take vital signs, help with mobility, and provide emotional support to patients. To become a CNA, one must complete a nursing assistant training program and pass a certification exam. A career as a CNA can be both rewarding and challenging, as they play an essential role in ensuring the comfort and well-being of patients.
Where Does A CNA Work?
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) typically works in different healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, and other long-term care centers. CNAs may also provide home health care services to patients in their or relatives’ homes.
In hospitals, CNAs are usually assigned to specific units or departments. They are responsible for providing fundamental patient care under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse (LPN or registered nurse (RN)). In nursing homes and long-term care centers, CNAs typically help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting. Additionally, they may help patients transfer from beds to wheelchairs or walkers. They may also assist with meals, feed patients if necessary, take vital signs, and provide emotional support to patients.
In-home health settings, CNAs may provide more advanced types of patient care depending on their training and the needs of their employer. This may include wound care, catheterization, or ostomy management. In addition to these duties, CNAs often help RNs and LPNs with charting patient information and maintenance tasks such as stocking supplies or cleaning equipment.
Is Being a CNA Hard?
Aspiring Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) may wonder whether the profession is challenging. The answer is yes; being a CNA can be difficult. A great deal of responsibility is associated with the role, such as providing direct care to patients in various medical settings, monitoring vital signs, and assisting nurses and physicians. CNAs also need to keep up-to-date on regulations and standards of care changes. This requires critical thinking skills and good judgment.
In addition, CNAs often work long shifts that can be physically demanding. They are on their feet for most of the day, working closely with patients or attending to tasks such as cleaning rooms or stocking supplies. Good communication skills are also essential when it comes to interacting with both patients and staff members.
Making sure you have the right attitude is essential if you want to make it as a CNA. Being compassionate and understanding can go a long way in making patients feel comfortable and cared for while staying organized and managing time effectively will help ensure tasks are completed correctly. It’s also essential to have the emotional strength necessary to handle challenging situations that may arise.
Becoming a CNA can be hard work, but it is also very rewarding. With the proper attitude and dedication, you can become an excellent CNA and make a real difference in people’s lives.
How To Become A CNA?
1. The first step to becoming a CNA is to graduate with either a high school diploma or a GED.
2. The second step is to complete a certified nursing assistant training program from an accredited school or institution. These typically last four to six weeks and provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become a CNA.
3. The third step is to take the certification exam covering the theoretical and practical components of being a CNA. Once you clear this exam, you will be qualified as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
4. Finally, once you have passed the certification exam and received your license, you can apply for job openings in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, nursing agencies, assisted living facilities, hospices, and other long-term care centers. You may also pursue a career in home health care.
How Much Does A CNA Make?
If you’re really interested in pursuing a career as a CNA, it’s essential to understand the financial aspects of this profession. So, how much does a CNA make? Starting out, you can expect to earn slightly more than minimum wage. As an entry-level CNA, the hourly rate is $10.94 or an annual salary of $22,750. However, with experience, your salary will increase. After gaining extra experience, you can expect to make an hourly rate of $14.83 or an annual salary of $30,085. At the top level, the salary for a CNA may reach up to $20.25 hourly, equating to approximately $32,050 annually.
- Entry-level: $10.94 hourly/$22,750 annually
- Experienced: $14.83 hourly/$30,085 annually
- Top Level: $20.25 hourly/$32,050 annually
- Steps To Becoming A CNA
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
17 Tips from Veteran Certified Nursing Assistants for New CNA
Every CNA has some experience and tips they can share with others. Whether it’s a technique to make patient care smoother or save time, these strategies can be invaluable in helping make your job as a CNA easier and more enjoyable.
Here are 17 tips from certified nursing assistants:
1. Carry a small Notebook
Use a notebook to write down questions, assignment information, and patient reminders to remember essential details and free up mental space. This helps you avoid forgetting things and focus on learning. As you obtain the required information, mark off your list.
2. Be organized
Staying organized is the best way to save time. Make a list of all the tasks needed, then prioritize and check things off as you go. If you have your workspace, keep it neat to find what you need quickly.
3. Work with others when possible.
Help your coworkers when needed, especially if your shift is shorthanded. Working together can be faster and easier than working alone; for example, one person can take vital signs while another starts toileting patients. Not only will this help save time, but also show great teamwork and support between colleagues.
Avoid drama or conflicts in the unit – they are never productive! Instead of gossiping or backstabbing, focus on what you need to do. Let someone know when you’re taking a break or spending time with a resident.
4. Be direct when resolving misunderstandings
If there is ever a disagreement, address the issue directly with that person and try to resolve it quickly. Avoiding conflict won’t help anyone in the long run, so communicate clearly and respectfully if anything arises.
5. Body mechanics
Sparing your back should always come first! Under no circumstances should you take shortcuts – this is one of the main rules you learn in CNA training. Make sure to perform tasks safely and correctly every time.
6. Carry a First-Aid kit
A few Band-Aids, a small tube of antibiotic ointment, and pain relief medication can be helpful in case of accidents. While you must never share these with patients, your colleagues may be grateful for the supplies in an emergency.
7. Invest in quality shoes
Put enough thought into purchasing shoes as they are essential to comfortable working conditions. Make sure they fit well and are comfortable – there’s no need to break them in if they feel great from the start!
8. Stain removal
Peri-Wash or baby wipes can help keep stubborn stains at bay – rub it into the spot with a wet washcloth and let it dry. This is especially helpful when dealing with spills on scrubs or other clothing items.
9. Care for yourself
Eat well, drink plenty of fluids, and get enough sleep. Your energy level depends on it! Staying healthy is the best way to stay focused and successfully shift.
10. Introduce yourself
It’s essential to make an excellent first impression. Introducing yourself to the patient and their family members is also necessary to become familiar with them.
11. Be a team player
Working as a team is vital to providing quality care. Let your coworkers know if you need help, and offer support when they need it too. It can go a long way!
12. Speak up
If you think something needs to be done differently or improved, don’t hesitate to speak up – it’s often appreciated! This helps create a culture of continuous improvement for all involved.
13. Focus on the patient
It’s all about providing the best care for the patient. Remember that when you’re dealing with paperwork or other tasks.
14. Keep learning
Continuing your education is a great way to stay on top of new developments and treatments in the healthcare field. It can also give you an edge when applying for higher-level positions.
15. Follow safety procedures
Safety comes first! Ensure you follow all hospital guidelines and protocols to protect patients and staff from potential harm. This is especially vital when working with hazardous materials or operating medical equipment.
16. Make time to relax
Burnout is a real thing, especially in the healthcare industry. When you have time off, use it for some much-needed self-care. Take a break and do something fun – it’ll help keep your spirits high!
17. Share your tips with others
When you develop methods that make life easier on the job, remember to pass them along to other healthcare team members. Sharing knowledge can be incredibly helpful in making everyone’s job easier.
These are just a few practical tips that can help you succeed as a CNA. You can be the best at what you do with practice and dedication! Good luck on your journey.
Top 14 Disadvantages Of Being A CNA Hard
1. Low wages: The average salary for a CNA is lower than other nursing professions, and the pay may need to be commensurate with the work CNA performs.
2. Difficult working conditions: CNAs often have to deal with complex patients and challenging physical conditions that can lead to emotional and physical stress.
3. Limited career growth: Although CNAs can advance to become licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), or even healthcare managers, these promotions often require additional education and experience, meaning the career path for some may be limited.
4. Limited benefits: Benefits provided to CNAs are often limited and may not be as comprehensive as those offered to other healthcare professionals.
5. Difficult scheduling: Many CNAs work irregular hours, often including nights and holidays. This can make it difficult for CNAs to balance family commitments and personal lives with the demands of their job.
6. Lack of respect: Many patients need to give CNAs the respect they deserve, which can lead to low morale among staff members.
7. High turnover rate: Due to the demanding nature of the job coupled with lower pay, high burnout rates among CNAs is common, leading to a higher deficiency than those offered to other nursing professions.
5. High patient turnover: In many cases, CNAs may rarely see the same patient more than once due to high turnover in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare settings. It is difficult for CNAs to form meaningful relationships with their patients.
6. Risk of injury: Due to the physical nature of the job, CNAs are at risk of developing back pain, musculoskeletal injuries, and fatigue from lifting and moving heavy patients.
7. Difficult hours: Many CNAs work long hours, including nights, early mornings, or weekends depending on the needs of the facility they are employed.
8. Exposure to contagious diseases: CNAs may be exposed to infectious or contagious diseases due to the nature of their job.
9. Emotional exhaustion: Dealing with challenging patients and often heartbreaking situations can take an emotional toll on a CNA and lead to burnout over time.
10. Pressure to perform: Working in a fast-paced environment can cause some CNAs to feel pressured to complete tasks quickly, leading to mistakes or potential medical errors.
11. Lack of autonomy: A CNA works under the supervision of other healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses or physicians, so they have limited freedom in making patient care plans.
12. Limited space for advancement: Although CNAs can advance their career by obtaining additional certifications or degrees, the opportunities for improvement are often limited, and pay increases may be insignificant.
13. Limited job security: With the ever-changing healthcare industry, CNAs may need help to gain and maintain job security because jobs can change quickly due to budget cuts or changing regulations in the field.
14. Emotional Toll: It can be challenging to work in such a demanding environment where you are often exposed to severe medical conditions and death daily.
This can take an emotional toll on CNAs, making it challenging to maintain a healthy balance between their personal life and professional obligations.
Overall, being a CNA is both rewarding and challenging. Although the position has some disadvantages, the rewards of providing quality care to patients far outweigh any negatives. With dedication, hard work, and determination, CNAs can create meaningful careers that make a significant difference in the lives of those they serve.
Frequently Asked Questions About CNA
Is cna school hard?
CNA school covers various topics, including nursing skills and procedures, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and patient care. As with any education, it can be challenging. However, with dedication and hard work, you can confidently master the material and become a successful CNA.
Is being a cna really that bad?
Finding time for your life commitments could be challenging when you are working 40 or more hours per week at a job with not-so-great pay. However, there is also the reward of making a tangible difference in someone else’s life and knowing that you are an essential part of the healthcare team. Weighing the 14 cons can help you decide if this is your career path.
What is the hardest part of being a CNA?
The hardest part of being a CNA may be the low pay and the emotional and physical toll of providing patient care. CNAs are also responsible for maintaining patients and must adhere to safety protocols and professional demeanor, even in difficult or stressful situations. This can tax mental and physical levels, involving long shifts, lifting patients, and even dealing with difficult or uncooperative patient behavior.
Who does CNA Work with?
CNAs typically work with registered nurses (RNs and LPNs), doctors, physical therapists, registered dieticians, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to provide direct patient care.
Being a CNA is both challenging and rewarding. It requires dedication, resilience, empathy, and hard work. But for those passionate about caring for others, it can be a gratifying job with opportunities to make a real difference in patients’ lives. CNAs are essential on the health care team and integral to quality patient care. You can have a successful career in this field with the right attitude and passion.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.