Certified Nursing Assistants are irreplaceable in any healthcare facility. They are entrusted with direct patient care, under the watchful eye of a supervising nurse. From bathing and dressing patients, to carrying them around, to providing emotional support, CNAs carry out basic yet essential healthcare duties.
Though it is seen as an “entry level position,” the weight of its responsibilities should not be underestimated. It is common for new CNAs to struggle, in the beginning, and that is fine. It can take some time to acclimate yourself to the pressure and workflow of a healthcare setting, even as a “mere” CNA. With the right mindset and the tips listed below, you will thrive in your Nurse Aide role in no time whatsoever.
Bring spare clothes with you
Healthcare work can get messy. From blood, to medications and more, your clean clothes might end up wet or stained at any moment by biohazardous materials. Bringing clean, dry spare clothes allows you to stay comfortable, if this ever happens. You can leave them in your backpack or your locker room, if your facility provides you with one.
All this applies to your gloves as well. Your gloves are even more likely to get stained than your clothes, since you will be directly handling wet and/or biohazardous material with them. As long as you bring an extra pair of clean gloves with you, you should be fine.
Reach out to your patients
Direct patient care requires a lot of trust. Bathing, dressing, and personal grooming are sensitive and personal daily routines normally done in private. Moreover, hospitalization can be an intimidating and overwhelming process. It is the job for every CNA (and healthcare professional in general) to foster a welcoming environment for these patients.
To the best of your capacity, try to forge a real (yet professional) connection with your patients. You can find a common ground by asking about any shared hobbies or interests you may have. Make it clear you are listening to them, and routinely ask them about their status or any concerns they may have. With this, patients will be far more comfortable and willing to provide useful patient information.
Diligently report patient information
CNAs are expected to document critical patient information, as they provide care. This allows the healthcare team to gain a better understanding of the patient’s status, and create a care plan tailored to their needs. Understandably, you can expect to write down a lot of patient reports during your time as a CNA. Be thorough with the notes you wire, but make sure you are only documenting relevant patient information. This includes notable medical history, any potential side effects to their medication or treatment plan, and more.
For new nurse aides, it is highly recommended that you download and print out a nursing report template. This lets you save time with the reports, as you only need to fill out the information in a premade form. There are a number of nursing report templates available online, so you just have to find the one that best suits your workplace. You can even ask your fellow CNAs if they have templates they are willing to share.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes
You will be spending the bulk of your time on your feet, and moving about. If you are going to wear the same shoes for 12 hours, you might as well find a comfortable pair. There are a number of specialized nurse shoes that are slip resistant, waterproof, and easy to clean. Athletic shoes also work, since they are ready to take on the mileage of nursing work. There are also clogs that boast the durability and comfort that every HCP needs.
The same applies for scrubs as well. As an HCP, your key concerns should be comfort, durability and stylishness. Of course, you want to make sure that the clothing material is light, and breathable. At the same time, you have to make sure it is durable enough for long shifts and machine wash/drying. Though technically optional, everyone feels better when they look good. You can find a sleek, form fitting set of scrubs that still falls in line with your company’s uniform policy .
Be open to learning
You are at the very beginning of your HCP journey. Even after years of training and education, there are some things you can only learn from firsthand experience. Instead of feeling discouraged by this, embrace the challenge. Take advantage of every opportunity you have, to learn on the job. You can look for a mentor, either with a nurse or another, more tenured CNA. They can provide actionable advice and can even help with training certain skills. If you are ever unsure about something, do not be afraid to ask questions.
Even outside of your shift, you should embrace this mentality. As we know, healthcare is constantly changing, with regards to best practices and technology. Try to find opportunities to attend seminars, conferences, or lectures regarding all the new developments of healthcare. If these are accredited and recognized by your State Nursing Board, these hours can even be counted in your Continuing Education requirements.
Learn how to work in a team
As the old saying goes, no man is an island. To thrive in healthcare, CNAs need to learn how to work in a team setting. From Licensed Practical Nurses, to doctors, and even fellow CNAs, you will be collaborating with different people from various backgrounds and positions. Do your best to build a rapport with your team members while keeping things professional. This means getting to know them and even sharing lunch, but avoiding needless drama or gossip.
Do not be afraid to ask for help, when needed. If your hands are full, do not be afraid to ask a fellow CNA for help, in completing your tasks for the day. This cannot be a one way exchange, either. If they or any other team member asks for help, you should be willing to lend a helping hand every now and then. If your workload is truly at capacity, politely turn them down but promise that you will help them some other time. As with all things, it is all about striking a balance.