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What are three important things I should know about being a CNA (e.g. working conditions, typical schedule, rewards, and challenges)? What are some tools/technology I should be familiar with?

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Anita’s Answer

The most important thing to remember when working as a CNA is that you are providing care to a “human being” that can no longer provide care to themself. Sometimes when the CNA’s get busy they become anxious & frustrated that they cannot meet the demands of their patients fast enough. With everything involved with the patients Activities of Daily Living, toileting, assisting with their meals, giving showers, assisting patients to and from their activities that the CNA’s just start going through the motions of patient care to get their work done and they forget., they a providing care to a human being with feelings and not an object. Working as a CNA is a very physically challenging job but most facilities provide several different mechanical lifts to transfer patients for their safety & nursing staff safety. If the CNA is providing care to the patient from their heart it’s a very rewarding career that comes easy . If they’re not providing care from their heart it shows. It shows when they’re unhappy on the job, it shows in the patient care they give. Good luck with your career whatever you choose.

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Nancy’s Answer

First, and most important: A little bit of kindness goes a long, long, long way. You will be caring for people who are unable to care for themselves, and yours might be the only human touch they receive all day. The work may seem nasty sometimes, but your heart will benefit from the gratitude of your patients.

Second: Working conditions/schedule - you may work 8 hours or 12 hours, depending on the facility you work in. You might work days, afternoon/evenings, or nights. In any case, you will have time for other things! (Like nursing school!)

Third: Tools and technology - your training and your facility will teach you everything you will need to know about tools. And, there are a bunch of them! Lifts and chairs and beds and all sorts of tools that help people do the things they need to do. You might want to Google Durable Medical Equipment to get a feel for some of the things you will be using.

A word about schools: There are lots of programs out there, for-profit schools and not-for-profits. Also, some nursing homes will do their own pre-licensing in-house school, so you get paid while you are learning. Stay away from the for-profit schools. They will charge you $6,000 for the same program that you'll get for a few hundred dollars at your local trade school or Red Cross.

Very important to know: CNAs are the backbone of healthcare. No one could do their jobs if not for the CNAs who bathe, feed, cajole and entertain the patients. And, CNAs can run circles around LPNs and RNs who were not CNAs first. Making an occupied bed is a pretty big deal when you don't know how to do it! Rock on!

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Hwal’s Answer


Others have shared solid advice and information, so I'll share my there tips from my experience working as a CNA before starting PA school.

1. Likely, there will be many job opportunities in many different healthcare settings, such as hospital floors, private home care, and nursing homes.

2. There might be limited advancement opportunities, but working as a CNA is often a rite of passage for future healthcare leaders (like me! :)

3. Kyrie mentioned rightly to work ergonomically, and this cannot be overemphasised. Keep your back straight when moving patients or lifting objects, and ask colleagues or supervisors for help and support if you're unsure or uncomfortable.

Good luck!


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Dr. Frank’s Answer

Typically certified nurse assistants work in nursing homes, home care, assisted living, Hospice, hospitals, community based long-term care, correctional institutions, and other long-term care settings. Nursing assistants help patients of all ages perform the most basic daily tasks.

As far as work schedule One of the biggest variables in CNA work schedules is whether you work 8 or 12 hours at a time. Some people prefer to work four or five 8-hour shifts, but others prefer to work longer each day for an extra day off. In this case, many hospitals and nursing homes allow CNAs to work three 12-hour shifts.

One of the main reasons a person chooses to become a CNA stems from the emotionally rewarding aspects of the work they do for their patients. You have the chance to impact the lives of people based on the care you provide.

The challenges are the stress level Because CNAs are responsible for the daily care of patients and residents, some of whom can be extremely ill, confused or frail, working as a certified nursing assistant can be very stressful.

Other Challenges a CNA has to Face
Long hour shifts. A job of a CNA can be demanding in more ways than one, and one of these ways is the long hour shifts which can extend to 8-12 hours as patients may need constant care. It is also physically demanding work. In addition you may have to deal with Difficult patients Sometimes. Juggling different responsibilities will be needed. Lastly, may have issues and Problems with other members of staff.

The most important tools you should be familiar with are Stethoscope - CNAs are usually responsible for taking patients' vital signs, and a stethoscope really comes in handy for that. It can be used to not only check a patient's pulse and heart rate, but their blood pressure too. As a CNA, you're sure to have a stethoscope dangling from your neck more often than not. Also, blood pressure cuffs and a variety of thermometers, ranging from rectal thermometers to digital versions that are inserted in the ear.

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Kyrie’s Answer

Being a CNA is very hard and back breaking work in the same amount as it is rewarding. You can work anywhere from an 8 hour to a 12 hour shift (twelves mean you only work 3 days a week). ALWAYS MIND YOUR BACK AND MOVE ERGONOMICALLY. No matter what your back comes first! Always lift the bed to your height to provide care. It will feel like you are working harder than the nurses which can be frustrating but remember your responsibilities are different. Your charting will be very minimal in comparison but you will physically be doing more. You help people shower who otherwise can’t, get them to the toilet before they have an embarrassing/demeaning BM in their pants... doing these things does worlds for your patients!!!! The little things go a long way.