Posted: 6/17/2019 7:01:13 PM

The Six Best Things About Being a CNA

Being a CNA is not all about hard work. Looking at the bright side, caregiving is also about having wonderful experiences. So, when the going gets tough at work and you feel like dashing out the door and leaving behind your scrubs for good, take a moment to unwind and look at the best this job can offer. Give it time to sink in and you'll realize that being a CNA comes with perks that reward you for life.

Here’s six of our best:

1. You get to be a giver—continually.

This tops our list, as being a CNA is a job that never stops giving. Daily, you take on tasks that most consider unpleasant. You give your time to others, like when you miss your coffee and lunch break just to assist patients. As the saying goes, “The best gift you can give someone is your time.”

2. You touch lives and leave a lasting impact.

You may not realize it, but you do create an impact on a patient's life. How do you know?

Their simple thanks and appreciation say it all. You may hear patients or their family say, "You really were great!" or "I couldn't have done it without you." These are indications that you and your efforts mattered.

3. You learn how to be a part of a team.

Caring for a patient is a team effort even when each member has their own tasks to accomplish. You get to collaborate with people of diverse personalities, beliefs, and cultures. You learn from each other, too!

4. You’ll have a rewarding and practical experience.

Everything you learn as you care for patients and work with colleagues will translate well into life outside work. As a nursing assistant, you become equipped to cope with many types of stresses.

Is a family member sick? You may not be a doctor, but your training and practice taught you a lot. You can better manage on your own and without ending up a nervous wreck. And the people skills you learn will serve you well. You know better than to lose your cool over petty things.

You’re also a great listener, thanks to your favorite resident who never runs out of stories. If you have kids and bring those great communication skills home, you'll definitely earn your badge for exemplary parenting skills!

5. You see your efforts pay off.

Unlike working in the corporate world, where it’s harder to know how well you contribute to successes, being a nursing assistant provides constant opportunities to appreciate the positive results of your hard work and sacrifices. When you see patients improve or feel a bit better amidst sickness and pain, it’s a feeling you won’t forget!

6. You have a great career outlook.

CNA jobs will never become obsolete. In fact, nursing careers are on the rise and the demand will even be higher in the coming years.

The US population is aging, with more baby boomers retiring by the minute. An increase in the number of older people also means an increased need for long-term care, which equates to a variety of employer options for CNAs. You can also choose from many work settings including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health, and skilled nursing facilities.

Also, there are many opportunities for career advancement. You can work toward becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse and there are many programs that support your transition without having to stop working. This paves the way for you to level up your nursing skills and earn a heftier paycheck.

The nursing assistant job is not easy, but if you have what it takes to make a patient's life a lot more comfortable as they go through a difficult time, you are indeed a miracle worker. And this is what makes the job noble. It’s also a good reason to be proud of yourself!

Posted: 6/13/2019 2:00:12 PM

A Salute to All CNAs!

Are you a certified nursing assistant? June 13-20 is Nursing Assistants’ Week and the special theme for this year’s celebration is “Nursing Assistants: Creating a Community of Caring.” We recognize CNAs’ invaluable role in doing justice to the word care in healthcare delivery.

If you are one of the one and a half million* CNAs who are considered the lifeblood of long-term care, we salute you! This week is all about you and the impact you make in patients’ lives! It's also about remembering all your sacrifices and recognizing your efforts as a direct care worker.

What are CNAs to us?

They are heroes without capes who take on tasks many others consider unpleasant or revolting. They assist 10 to 15 patients at a time, sometimes more, when helping only one person proves challenging to most. They move tirelessly from patient to patient, changing sheets, shuffling bedpans and urinals, religiously following nurses’ orders, moving and bathing patients, and more. This is what their typical day looks like. They give of themselves and put patients’ health and safety above everything else. And they press on, amidst all the challenges.

Thank you!

How Nursing Aides Came to Be: A Brief History

Since it’s CNA week, let’s take a quick look at how the nursing assistant position came to be.

When World War I erupted, nurses tended the wounded and sick. The devastation of the war went on for several years, which led to many nurses feeling tired and burned out. The American Red Cross saw the plight of nurses and created the Volunteer Nurses' Aide Service, a program that trained young women volunteers to assist overworked nurses. These women volunteers were the first recognized nurse assistants.

Because the nursing aide position was purely voluntary, it did not catch on until World War II began. The Red Cross restarted the program and around 212,000 women offered their assistance. The demand for nurses’ aides rose significantly, so even after the war, nursing assistants were deemed an important part of the healthcare team. Decades later, the job progressed to a paid position.

In the 1980s, people became more concerned about the quality of care patients received. To address the issue, the government began to require nursing assistants be certified before they can work.

And here you are, the CNA of today, with the same role as a nurse’s right hand, a patient’s reliable ally, and a hard worker doing back-breaking tasks and enduring hardships daily to ensure a patient’s comfort and safety.
How badly do we need you?

Our country needs nursing assistants now more than ever. The US population is aging. In 2060, the number of older people is projected to grow to 98 million, more than double the current 46 million. Additionally, many older people have chronic diseases and there is an increased number of those with risk factors (such as smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle) that contribute to poor health. So, direct care workers such as CNAs will play a crucial role in maintaining quality health services.

In the coming days, let the world recognize your hard work and all the effort you put in on the front lines of the healthcare industry. Your job is vital and you are important. Let your voice be heard. And don’t forget to sit back and take a moment to enjoy our thanks and appreciation!

* Includes orderlies.

Posted: 6/10/2019 3:28:50 PM

How to Foster a Sense of Control and Independence in Patients

Having independence and a sense of control is one of the most important aspects of a person’s dignity. This is true especially for patients who are battling a serious disease or a chronic illness.

Loss of function, limited mobility, confusion, and other difficult health conditions make patients unable to do some of the things they used to have no trouble with. For many patients in this stage of adjustment, the undesired changes open the door to depression. They lose their sense of normalcy and with it, their self-worth and confidence.

Nursing assistants are in the position to help patients be independent and maintain a sense of control because they provide personal assistance and help perform activities of daily living.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

1. Consider who they were and what they did before the illness.

Before they were patients, they were doing what they do best. They have careers and a role in their families and circle of friends. Imagine limiting this privilege because of long-term illness. For many, the acceptance of having a health problem is still a fuzzy idea, and CNAs need empathy to preserve the patient's independence and sense of control.

2. Offer assistance instead of insisting on your help.

Be very clear that you are there to assist your patient whenever needed. CNAs can make the mistake of doing everything for a patient, because it takes less time than watching and waiting for patients to finish a task on their own. The huge downside to this is that it takes away the patient's independence. It makes patients feel like a burden. Instead, offer your support and convey your presence instead.

3. Ask permission.

Other than a sign of respect, asking permission from the patient gives them control over their own health and environment. Knock and wait for a response before entering the room. It's also best to get the patient's approval before touching their belongings, starting a procedure, or moving them.

4. Involve the patient in decision-making regarding their health.

Keeping a patient an active part of the healthcare team is one of the best ways to maintain their sense of control and independence. This technique is not without challenges, though. Some patient’s might insist on doing something unhealthy or that can negatively affect their treatment. Should you encounter this kind of problem, discuss it with the nurse and together you can plan ways to encourage the patient.

5. Let your patient perform self-care and take over if they are unable to finish.

There are activities such as bathing, for example, that can be very tiring for a patient. While you make sure they are comfortable and safe, you also want them to do things on their own. The best way to handle such a situation is to have the patient start bathing and then ask to wash areas they can’t reach.

6. Provide options.

Presenting patients with things to choose from is a great approach to balancing independence and control between you and the patient. For example, when a confused patient has a hard time picking appropriate clothes to wear, provide a couple of outfits to choose from. This way, the patient will have the final say and still choose suitable garments.

7. Ask about the patient’s preferences, needs, and wants—and respect them.

Let’s say a patient prefers to dip their butter croissant in ketchup and your stomach turns thinking about the flavor combination. If they have no dietary restrictions, go with a patient’s request. Also, make sure you don’t react in a way that embarrasses them.

8. Allow activities as long as they are safe.

Consider this: Your patient usually takes a walk to the garden every morning, but after feeling weak from a recent surgery, they can’t manage going out on their own. If the patient has been cleared for that activity, you can suggest that they use a wheelchair and accompany them in their routine.

Promoting independence in patients and giving them a sense of control can be a difficult journey because, as nursing assistants, your instinct is to protect patients, provide all-out care, and finish tasks on time. But if you give it the right mix of freedom and supervision, you will uncover a powerful tool to help patients feel good about themselves and continue striving for a quality life.

Posted: 6/3/2019 4:48:11 PM

How to Effectively Cope with Patient Death

The emotional toll of a patient’s death on healthcare staff, including nursing assistants, can be devastating—even if it’s expected in the care industry. We try to make meaningful connections at work and do our best for those under our care, so a patient’s passing can shake our resolve, especially when they have touched our life.

The irony is that, while CNAs know how to comfort grieving families, they often find themselves personally at a loss and unable to deal with the experience. They may break down, fall into depression, or think of quitting their job altogether.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are ways to cope:

1. Redirect your care from the patient to their family.

The patient’s family mourns their loss and you feel their pain, too. The best way to regain control of your emotions is to continue to provide support to the patient's loved ones.

2. Prepare yourself mentally.

You won’t know the exact day or hour of someone’s death, but you can be prepared mentally by understanding that death happens to each of us. It’s a cold truth, but in accepting its nature, you will better know how to manage your emotions.

Prepare to feel sympathy rather than empathy. Sympathy is understanding the grief or suffering of another, while empathy is sharing those feelings. When possible, CNAs need to be more sympathetic than empathetic so they can continue to effectively care for others.

3. Talk it out with your colleagues.

You will eventually have your first encounter with patient death and the sadness may stay with you for a long time. Turn to your coworkers and managers, who understand what you are going through and are willing to offer support.

Also, the patient's death may have affected others as well, and being there for each other during these low times can lift team spirit. You can also reach out to your family and friends.

4. Give yourself time to let it sink in.

Whether it’s a five-minute break or half your lunch break, take some time to breathe. Quiet time to think, process, or take a short walk can help you regain composure and focus on your tasks.

5. Do meditation after your shift.

You may be grieving yourself. It’s perfectly okay to feel this way. To find relief, meditate on the impact the patient had on your life as well as the difference you made in theirs. These are valuable lessons that stay with you for life and make you appreciate your job as a nursing assistant even more.

Don't wait around hoping to get used to losing a patient. That may never come, especially if you are the compassionate type. What can happen is that, over years of encountering patient death, you become more accepting of how finite human life is.

6. If the pain becomes too much and affects your care for others, don't hesitate to seek professional counseling.

Losing a patient can shatter you. If you’re having trouble, go to a therapist or counselor. They can help you process your grief and deal with the experience.

It is important for CNAs to cope effectively with the loss of a patient—not only for themselves, but because they have to keep it together and continue caregiving for others. Coping with a patient’s death is an unfortunate and inevitable journey, but you will learn important lessons along the way.

Posted: 5/27/2019 9:33:52 PM

CNA to RN Might be One of Your Best Career Moves Ever

Being a CNA is a tough but rewarding job. The helping and learning never stop. There are new challenges at work every day, but a passionate and efficient nursing assistant will stick with it, grow, and soon find that leveling up their career could enable them to serve patients better.

And that’s so true! If you’re excited and feel that being a registered nurse is your future career milestone, here are some helpful details to know:

1. You need to go back to school to study and train further, and then pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses).

Yes, you’ll need to allocate years of study to your decision to transition to nursing. You will take up a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, program.

Some schools will accept your nursing assistant education and reduce the credits you have to complete. Choose a reputable nursing school with a high passing rate.

Fortunately, you may be able to take courses online and do hands-on training and clinical practice in school. This flexibility is a big help when you want to continue working while studying.

The cost of nursing education can be high depending on the school, so choose the program that best fits your budget and schedule.

The NCLEX is also a big challenge to overcome before you can practice as an RN. Every state and state board of nursing will have their own requirements for licensure. But fear not! With enough dedication, training, and support, you'll be able to pass the NCLEX, get your RN license, and join the nursing workforce.

2. Being a registered nurse can enhance and advance all the knowledge and skills you acquired as a CNA.

Your education and training will include courses that discuss diseases in detail. You’ll be able to examine a patient, develop a detailed nursing care plan, give health teachings, administer medications, and do more complex procedures. You likely already have a good idea of how a nurse works, working so closely with them as a CNA.

3. You take on more responsibility and make more difficult decisions.

One of the thrilling perks of an RN job is that you’ll use your critical thinking skills to perform patient care duties. Your judgments regarding patient care will determine your patients’ safety and can directly affect their wellbeing.

You will also be capable of leading a team of workers who care for patients and will be in direct communication with physicians, technicians, and therapists. As you become more experienced, you may get a chance to mentor nursing students and newly hired CNAs.

4. Your career move comes with a salary upgrade.

Oh, yeah! From the average CNA pay of $28,530 per year, you can earn about 3x more as a registered nurse, whose median annual salary is $71,730. Your hard work toward your education, training, and board examination will be all worth it.

As a nursing assistant, you can climb the healthcare hierarchy with hard work and continuing education. If you want a lifelong career with vast opportunities and a hefty salary, becoming an RN is the way to go!

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