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whats the hardest part about being in cna

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Aaron’s Answer

Hi Markell,

I was a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for 1 year at a long-term care facility where we care for the old people called seniors who were there living permanently meaning they can no longer take care of themselves and can’t live on their own so they need around the clock care for 24 hours 7 days a week. Not only did I care for these types of people, I cared for people who were there for rehabilitation where they need a place to stay to recover from their health problem such as a broken leg and they need exercise with physical therapy to get well so they can go back to living their daily life. I also cared for people who were in hospice care meaning they are receiving care to make them comfortable until they pass away. The hardest part for me is caring for a person who is in hospice care because these people are reaching the end of their life and every time you care for them you can see the signs of reaching the end of life when they are in a coma which is a very deep sleep you can’t wake them up from or they don’t eat or drink. In a job like this it is hard to get used to a patient you care for pass away but when you constantly deal with this type of situation you find a way to cope with it and continue to do your job. Hope this helps.

-Thank you,

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Deeana’s Answer

Although most people think that the hardest part of being a CNA is the emotional aspect of patient care, that is only a small part of it. The hardest part of being a CNA is:

1. Watching patients/residents you have become attached to transfer to other facilities, become sick, or pass away
2. Working in a hospital or facility that is short-staffed makes it hard on the workers and even harder on patients/ residents when they do not receive the care they need
3. Dealing with slightly incompetent coworkers that should not work as a caregiver
4. The physical demands of the job quickly take a toll
5. The lack of communication between staff is one of the most frustrating things. Effective communication ensures adequate care of a patient/ resident, without good communication the patient/ resident does not get the safe care they deserve.
6. The financial aspects of healthcare are also frustrating! Depending on where you work it may be possible that a patient/ resident that typically does not meet the criteria for your facility gets in because of their financial stance.
7. Dealing with fecal matter and bodily fluids is not the most joyful thing in the world...

That being said there are other aspects of the job that make being a CNA worthwhile:

1. Being a CNA is emotionally rewarding.
2. Creating incredible bonds with patients/residents. Depending on where you work you may consistently care for the same group of patients/residents or you may have consistently new patients. Regardless of your time with your residents/ patients, they will impact your life in ways you would never before believe. The love that you feel from them makes this job 100% worth it.
3. The difference you make gives your life purpose.
4. Working with some amazing coworkers!
5.. Being a CNA is essential to society so there will always be a job available.
6. Considering the training necessary for the job you can earn a decent salary.
7. You have the option to specialize as a CNA and work in many different sectors.
8. It is a great introductory to the nursing field.

The bottom line is that being a CNA can be unbelievably difficult, and occasionally all I want to do is lay on the floor and cry. However, with any job in the healthcare world, you must find a balance. Yes, a lot of bad things happen but then an amazing thing happens and everything feels alright. Nothing is better than hearing a resident tell you that you did a great job on their laundry and that they appreciate you. Nothing makes your life better than hearing a resident tell you every night as you're helping them in bed that they love you and to be careful driving home.

If you are uncertain about becoming a CNA I would recommend volunteering at a local hospital or investigate a job shadowing opportunity.

Best wishes,


Deeana recommends the following next steps:

Look in to local job shadowing opportunities

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Suzanne’s Answer

I think the hardest part about being in healthcare as any sort of practitioner giving direct patient care is the following:
1. Dealing physically and emotionally with the suffering of other human beings.
2. Lack of adequate support from management.
3. Inadequate training for all aspects of the job and lack of support for ongoing training (healthcare practitioner must participate in life-long learning).
4. Lack of fairness towards all people in the USA regarding ability to seek and receive healthcare.

Here's a story. I was a registered nurse working in one the of the biggest hospitals in the USA. My specialty is cancer nursing. We had a late evening admission of a newly diagnosed leukemia patient, and the guy was acutely ill. And dirty. He was a homeless person, straight off the street. Before I could administer medications or other "physician ordered" things, I had to get this guy clean. He was so weak that he couldn't help me do this. I pushed his wheelchair into the shower room, and got into the shower with him. It took a while as I recall, but afterwards he smelled fresh and it was safe for me to start an IV and get the medications going. You see, people with leukemia have damaged immune systems and even dirt on their own skin might make them ill.

This man, because of lack of health care equity, couldn't get into the medical system until it was nearly too late. No one trained me to get into a shower to clean a homeless man: I improvised. They way he looked and smelled almost made me physically ill, but his gratitude after the shower made up for my discomfort.

I hope others answer your question as well Markell!


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Valerie’s Answer

I worked as a CNA when I was going to nursing school. The hardest part was that the work was physically demanding. It requires much lifting, turning etc of bed ridden patients as well as helping to transfer chair bound patients. It is dirty! You will experience smells you never knew existed! It is frustrating, not getting help when you need it, a patient refusing to eat that you are assisting when you know they need to eat etc. It is heartbreaking when a patient you really care for dies. BUT, it was some of the most rewarding time I have ever had in the medical field! I am now a nurse practitioner and I can honestly say that my relationship with patients is so different than when I was a CNA. As an RN or NP I tremendously value what a CNA will tell me about a patient. After all the CNA is the one that sees them every day, multiple times a day. Many times I have had a CNA come to me to tell me something "isn't quite right" with a patient. They didn't know what was wrong, just that the patient was off. They were right EVERY TIME!
Whether you use the position as a stepping stone into the medical field or as a career choice, you will experience some wonderful relationships and experiences despite the hard, messy work!

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Kerrie’s Answer

I would say the hardest part about being a CNA is being over-worked. In the hospital or long-term care setting the CNA's are very highly utilized but because the patient load is high, it might seem to be a lot for some people to handle. I think if you can put your heart and mind into being a CNA, you will become a great RN or MD.

CNA's who are very compassionate about their role to provide patient care and see their role as important, thrive as being a CNA. CNA's are so important to the hospital or long-term care setting because sometimes they get to spend more time with the patient than the nurses or doctors, so there may be information the CNA can provide that is vital to the patient's care. I love seeing CNA's and nurses working together for the greater good of the patient, not making work harder, as it is not a competition.

I loved my job as a CNA working in children's homes while I went to nursing school. It was hard work, but in the end, it gave me great skills to become an even better nurse!