Certified nursing assistants are in a unique position in healthcare. They take on some of the most physically demanding tasks and care services in the industry. Although their work is invaluable to the success of a healthcare facility, some dismiss them as a mere “entry level position.” Because of the nature of their work, and their place in the HCP hierarchy, they face a litany of unique challenges and struggles. This includes problems regarding perception amongst their peers, issues regarding compensation and certain struggles stemming from the work itself.
This time, we will go over some of the most prominent issues faced by CNAs, where they stem from, and what can be done to address them.
CNAs deal with death and loss on a regular basis
Almost by necessity, CNAs regularly form powerful (professional) bonds with their patients. They need to establish a strong base of trust, so that patients feel comfortable with them assisting with bathing, feeding and more. Naturally, they end up bonding with patients as they comfort them and their families throughout the care process. Though powerful and important, this connection makes it all the more difficult when a patient does not make it. CNAs then have to deal with grief and loss, which can be an especially tall task if they are a rookie.
Death, grief, and acceptance are an unfortunate reality of healthcare. HCPs on all levels cannot expect to save everyone, all the time. Thriving in the industry means coming to terms with these truths. Do not be afraid to open up to trusted co-workers or your family. If it reaches a certain point, seek professional help from a mental health expert like a therapist. There is no instant solution to grief and loss. Healing and learning how to deal with death is a gradual process that requires consistent investment.
CNAs are seen as “bottom wrung” HCPs
Relative to other positions, CNA requirements are much less demanding, compared to their peers. As a result, they find themselves unfairly talked down to by their supervisors and even their patients. This perception can lead to bullying and abusive behaviors from other nurses or co-workers who look at every opportunity to talk down on nurse aides and their contributions. Not only does workplace bullying have a significant link to lowered productivity in healthcare, it can also cause serious mental health issues like depression, stress, and anxiety.
Bullying in any circumstance is not justified. Though the “entry level” designation for a CNA is true, it should not be a point of shame. Nurse aides provide immense value to a facility setting. They handle all the heavy lifting in a literal sense, while offering physical and emotional care to patients in need. Do not let the heckling of your contemporaries get to you, because they are based entirely on false grounds. You can confide in fellow CNAs or supervising HCPs that you trust, to ensure that you are not isolated. If the bullying reaches an untenable level, seriously consider filing a report to HR.
CNAs are not appropriately compensated for their troubles
Despite the backbreaking labor that CNAs carry out, every shift, their compensation rates lag behind their peers. For reference, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that nurse aides made an average of $36,220 a year in 2022. Meanwhile, Licensed Practical Nurses earned $55,860 annually, in the same span of time. Compensation for CNAs has been a sticking point, with no clear resolution in time. To maintain a certain standard of living, some nursing assistants end up working untenable hours each week.
CNAs have some avenues to improve their earning potential. Additional certifications show that you are committed to improvement and development, which drives up your value among healthcare facilities. If you are confident in the quality of your work, you could ask for a raise in six month intervals. Picking up part time shifts with VitaWerks also lets you maximize your earning power, as CNAs can secure the best rates available in their area. In addition, booking with VitaWerks lets you plan your work schedule in advance. Our HCPs enjoy full flexibility, without sacrificing any of their bottom line.
CNAs face a real risk of burnout
The long hours, and physical nature of CNA work all add up. Though it is an issue across all levels of healthcare, CNAs are uniquely susceptible to mass burnout. One too many long shifts can result in a severe bout of burnout, which can leave CNAs incapable of fulfilling their duties. Burnout also directly causes fatigue, anxiety, stress, and depression among its victims. If left unchecked, the effects of burnout can lead to long term physical and mental damage among even the best nurse aides in the business.
As was mentioned earlier, VitaWerks’ flexible schedule is a godsend in this regard. HCPs can continue picking up work, and make time for much-needed personal space. They can still acquire compensation, while simultaneously taking time to rest, spend time with their loved ones, or indulge in their hobbies. If you recognize that the problem has reached an unsustainable level, you can also make use of your paid leave. A long weekend could be what you need, before going back to work.