Posted: 11/12/2018 11:30:43 AM

How to Build a Firewall to Protect Against Negative Colleagues

Bad Vibes? Negative Energy? Some workers are able to find a problem for every solution and the worst in every person. Negative people can be so powerful that they fill the work atmosphere with stress, affecting (or should we say, infecting?) the whole environment with their bad attitude.

In the healthcare setting, you’ll know you’ve met a negative person after a little conversation or working with them for a bit—you’ll hear complaints about everything: The nurse manager is a jerk. The hospital is the worst. Their best friend coworker is a gossip. Food in the cafeteria is lousy. Patients are demanding, and don’t get better anyway.

If you are an upbeat CNA or rely on a good start to your shift to survive the day, encountering this coworker early on can ruin your inner peace . . . unless you know how to build a personal firewall to fend off the negativity.

So, how can you do this?

1. Filter their genuine complaints and then ignore the rest of their rant.

Some complainers don't have the skills to communicate about an important issue, or they feel that nobody cares, so they tend to talk about it all the time. In this situation, it is good to listen to them once and determine if it’s a workplace issue that needs your help and attention. Otherwise, let it go.

Excuse yourself if the conversation gets out of hand and don't feed the drama. Do not agree with what they are complaining about in the hope that they’ll leave you alone, because it reinforces and encourages their behavior.

2. Give them a positive view of the situation.

If you sincerely think they got it all wrong, you can show them how you view the matter differently. Use some of the therapeutic communication techniques you know, like "I know that's how you feel about it, but here's what I think . . ." Tell them how positive thoughts have helped you become happy at work and avoid stress. You may help change their point of view!

3. Some colleagues are hardcore negatives. Have the courage to say “stop.”

Frankly but respectfully tell them their constant sour outlook is affecting patient care and work relationships. Set limitations. Setting limits is important, especially if you work alongside them and cannot physically distance yourself. Focus on completing your tasks so that both of you will not compromise patient care.

4. Don’t let them get in your head.

Is the complaint now about you? What should you do if they make a long list of what you’re doing “wrong” as a nursing assistant? It takes a lot of willpower to restrain yourself from reacting with an emotional outburst, but it’s worth it to stay calm. Losing it yourself lets their negativity affect you big time, so be kind to yourself and control your emotions.

5. Speak up and seek out the help of HR.

The Human Resources department can help you reach out to your negative colleague, because they understand the policies and standard operating procedures in such situations. They may call you in to get more information, so it is your responsibility to give factual details about how the coworker’s negativity affects patient care and contributes to a toxic work culture.

Knowing how to protect yourself against negative colleagues is working smarter, because you prevent your stress levels from spiking sky-high. Deal with negativity the right way so you can concentrate on loving your job even more. So, go ahead and build that firewall to shield yourself against toxic vibes in the workplace. In the long run, you'll be happy that you did.

Posted: 11/5/2018 12:03:22 PM

Beating the Odds by Building and Strengthening Trust

Trust is the foundation of every relationship, even in the workplace. In healthcare, services are built on trust. It also creates a positive culture. Without trust, there can be no patient-healthcare worker relationships or productive healthcare teams.

Trust is so basic that it is taken for granted as we go about our daily tasks as CNAs, but it makes the healthcare world go around. Here are some common scenarios for you to consider:

1. The patient readily follows treatment protocols because they are confident that the healthcare team knows best on how to improve their condition.

2. A patient signs a consent form for their surgery—it’s like saying, “My life is in your hands.”

3. Patient agrees to let their CNA help undress them and put on an examination gown because they trust that the CNA will ensure their privacy.

4. A CNA trusts the care plan is a product of teamwork and is also designed to provide the best care possible.

5. A nurse considers a CNA’s observations and reevaluates the patient based on the CNA’s remarks.

6. A CNA sends honest feedback regarding patient care because the CNA knows that what they say won’t be taken in a bad light.

To help build and strengthen trust in the workplace, a nursing assistant must:

Recognize that it takes a lot of effort. Trust is earned and, once lost, it’s hard to get back. For example, did a patient fall while on your watch? Where trust is broken in this regard, the patient or their family may request different staff to look after them (or keep a watchful eye on you).

Learn to communicate well. For patients and colleagues to trust you, you have to know how to communicate respectfully. Keep your word and do what you say you’ll do, without a hidden agenda. Be truthful especially when patient safety is at stake. Be honest and transparent with good intentions. If you see something that needs improvement, don’t hesitate to act on it by first voicing your concerns to your supervisor and then offering help to carry out improvements. Sometimes, it’s tempting to say, “It’s none of my business,” because it’s the easy way out to avoid confrontations and additional responsibility, but losing your concern for others kills trust.

Be competent. When you are new to the job or it’s your first time to perform a difficult procedure, ask an experienced colleague to accompany you. Don’t forget to smile sincerely at the patient and talk with them to help you relax, too. Keep updated on proper patient care protocols and never compromise patient safety, even when you are pressed for time or lack the right equipment.

Be genuine and sincere in performing patient care and assisting the team. Your concern will show, as well as the lack of it. Patients and your team feel your intentions and when you aren’t sincere, you send out a signal that you shouldn’t be trusted. Unless you show genuine care, the relationships you build are fragile.

Model the behavior that you want. Do you hate it when senior staff bullies you because you’re a newbie? When the time comes to support a coworker fresh from training school, extend your support and make their onboarding experience a pleasant and productive one. Getting even has no place in building trust.

Trust is hard to come by these days, but in healthcare, it is a must for achieving positive health outcomes for patients, improving patient satisfaction, and for teamwork to bring out the best results. CNAs have the power to make a big impact in this regard.

Posted: 10/29/2018 1:28:15 PM

CNAs as Victims of Violence in the Workplace

Certified nursing assistants who become victims of workplace violence may feel that nothing in nursing school could have prepared them for this experience, which left them afraid, brutalized, and feeling alone.

What is workplace violence?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines workplace violence as "violent acts including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty."

Examples are pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, stabbing, and shooting someone. These are violent attacks that cause serious physical harm and even death in some cases. Verbal assaults such as threats, verbal abuse, hostility, and harassment are considered workplace violence, too, and easily lead to physical violence.

If you have been a CNA for some time, you may have already heard similar stories in your unit or even been a witness or victim to violence.

As it turns out, deciding to join the healthcare workforce is itself an act of bravery, and caring for patients in hospitals and nursing homes can be a dangerous profession. Why? Forty-five percent of all cases of workplace violence are in healthcare. In fact, from 2002 to 2013, serious workplace violence (requiring victims to take days off to heal and recover) were four times more common in healthcare than other industries.

And, CNAs have a special place in the list of healthcare workers who experience the highest rates of violent injuries resulting in days away from work: they rank second to psychiatric aides and almost four times higher than registered nurses. Aggressors are often distraught patients, at other times, they are the patient's family, visitors, and even the CNA’s coworkers.

The perfect recipe for workplace violence.

One reason nursing assistants are commonly attacked is that they are constantly in contact with patients and their family. As CNAs assist with activities of daily living, opportunities to become a target of aggression are more frequent because they work closest to patients, feeding them, assisting them with bathing, or helping them move around.

Violence also happens when workers are alone with the aggressor or because they are working in a hostile community. The risk of being a victim of an assault is also high when dealing with patients who have psychological problems.

Victims of physical aggression can suffer unimaginable stress, physical and mental trauma, psychological disorders, and other unhealthy consequences such as lack of sleep and appetite, and burnout. In turn, their work is severely affected. They may miss work for days, go AWOL (absent without official leave), or lose focus at work and commit errors, putting patients at risk. Their relationships at home may also turn sour because of the experience.

Workplace violence not only takes a toll on the victims, but on organizations as well. Along with creating a hostile work environment for all employees, cases of assault are costly, and hospitals and nursing homes can owe a considerable amount if they shoulder the burden of an employee victim’s medical treatment. They may also cover lost wages. If a worker must leave their job because of the horrible experience, the management will spend thousands to replace them. The estimated cost of replacing a nurse is $27,000-103,000, a considerable cost to most healthcare facilities.

One of the biggest challenges of stopping violence in healthcare is the underreporting of assault cases, even in settings where there are existing policies to deal with workplace violence. The present numbers do not represent the significance of the problem, and solutions are not adequate to address it. The result: a cycle of violence that continues to worsen over the years.

This is a sad fact for nursing assistants, who are at a higher risk of becoming victims.

What can you do to help end violence in the workplace?

Be mindful of your institution's policies and don’t be afraid to come forward if you are a victim. When you witness a coworker being abused, do not be a mere bystander. Instead, show that such aggression is not tolerated and refer to institutional policies in place. When the attack comes from a patient, call your nurse or another staff member to witness the event, and then immediately document every detail of the incident. Be an active participant in policy development and voice your opinions on how to address violence in the workplace. CNAs and their healthcare colleagues should work together to prevent future incidents.

Posted: 10/21/2018 2:42:01 PM

Day vs. Night Shift: The Perks and Downsides

Are you a newly hired CNA, weighing your options for which shift to take? Of course, you may have walked in the shoes of senior nursing assistants while training, but you know that nothing can fully prepare you for what’s ahead. Naturally, you might ask around about what happens in a facility or hospital during the day and how it differs from what goes on at night. That’s a smart move!

Here are some things that will help guide your choice between the day shift and the night shift:

1. Action

Day: If you are someone who feels alive where the action is, day shift is the way to go. In the morning, you will interact with a lot of people other than the patient, including other members of the healthcare team, staff, and visitors.

You'll also feel a more hurried atmosphere and see people running around to finish everyday tasks. Physicians do rounds, gather their team, discuss patient care, and then give out orders. CNAs help with their patients’ activities of daily living and bathing, grooming, and feeding patients as well as changing bed sheets.

Night: The ambiance is more laid back in the evening shift, compared to day. The patients are either preparing to be tucked in to bed or are already asleep. If peace and quiet is your thing, then working nights might be a good choice for you.

But, don’t assume that because evenings are quiet and everyone seems to be calm that nothing can go wrong. The fact is, because of the more relaxed environment at night, the signs and symptoms of complications can go unnoticed and cause some of the more dramatic and unexpected accidents in the workplace.

2. Procedures

Day: Most nursing care treatments and procedures are performed in the day. So, if you’re looking into the possibility of experiencing everything you learned in nursing school, pick the morning shift.

You’ll learn how to prioritize and manage your time, too. The downside: you may need to learn anger management. You and your fellow team members can get stressed and frustrated, so try to focus your energy in positive ways.

Night: Most procedures will center on assisting patients to the restroom or to use the bedside commode. This is also the time to clean equipment, sanitize surfaces, and restock supplies, which can be relaxing—if you enjoy staying organized.

3. Learning

Day: Let’s face it, much of the technical side, like skills mastery, is associated with procedures and nursing care. So, if you want to practice dressing a wound, for example, the day shift will give you more opportunities.

Night: On the other hand, some of the things that you will master at night are uninterrupted communication with patients, monitoring, watching for subtle signs and symptoms that spell trouble, and reading about nursing concepts. These skills are just as important as those nursing assistants tend to focus on during the day.

4. Meetings and seminars

Day: Meetings and seminars, whether they’re taking place at your work or elsewhere, are normally a part of daytime activities, so these opportunities can often easily be included in your normal schedule.

Night: You may want to commit some time outside your normal work hours to attend larger team meetings, work events, or professional seminars. While you could end up logging extra hours to fit these in your schedule, you’ll see the benefit of that extra effort as your career opportunities change over time.

5. Routine

Day: For most people, body rhythm pushes us to work during the day and sleep at night. If you are someone who cannot keep your eyes open at night, choose the morning shift. You risk brain fog when drowsy, and could harm a patient in the process.

Night: Some people just focus and perform better at night. If you belong to this group, you will love your job as a night-shift CNA. To sleep better during the day, close curtains and keep your room dark. The downside of sleeping during the day is that you are bound to be interrupted, especially if you have young kids at home.

6. Family time

Day: Morning shifts, especially 12-hour runs, will require you to leave the house earlier than most of your family, and come home later, too. Unless you have some dinner in the fridge, you're bound to have a pizza delivered or stop for fast food, just so everyone gets a bite for dinner. On the brighter side, you’re free to go out with friends after work.

Night: You can join your family for breakfast and dinner, sleeping in between. On weekends, though, when everyone is up and enjoying themselves during the day, you most likely need some shuteye and may miss the fun. Also, say goodbye to late-night parties, unless it's your night off, of course!

If you’re on the fence, try to experience both worlds, and then settle on what suits you best. If you want more action and interaction, take on the morning shift. If you realize you prefer the calm of working long after offices are closed, request evenings. On the other hand, if you start to feel bored as you breeze through the night shift, try mornings and get shaken up by the hustle and bustle of the workday!

Posted: 10/15/2018 1:29:08 PM

Going the Extra Mile: Unpaid, Unrecognized, But Totally Worth It!

What does it mean to “go the extra mile?” Typing those words in the Google search bar will churn out dozens of definitions and about 175 million results.

In case you are wondering where the term came from, here's some interesting trivia: “Go the extra mile” may have originated from a biblical story. Jesus’ words, "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two," elaborate on his lesson that you should focus on doing good, even if someone treats you otherwise.

The phrase has since evolved. Today, Collins online dictionary defines going the extra mile as being willing to make a special effort to do or achieve something. It means going out of your way to do something special for someone as an act of kindness without expecting anything in return. At your workplace, it can mean giving your time, effort, and resources for someone, outside your responsibilities.

Going the extra mile is always voluntary and can never be forced, or the words lose their meaning. In today’s healthcare, compassion among workers becomes rarer each day. Seeing staff do something out of the ordinary for a patient beyond their call of duty is truly inspiring. Let's take the case of Terrie Promis, a certified nursing assistant at Piedmont Physicians Neurology.

Terrie is known in her unit as someone who goes above and beyond for the patients she cares for. Her colleagues witness her strong connection with patients, especially those with dementia. She goes out of her way to bring items they need and takes extra time to be with them when they are anxious about a procedure, asserting her presence and holding their hands.

Terrie’s aura is heart-warming. According to her, seeing her patients in distress and struggling makes her want to spend even more effort to uplift their spirits, even if it means feeling torn apart inside when she feels their pain.

CNAs like Terrie are healthcare’s soldiers on the front line, and they are gold. Oftentimes overworked and underappreciated, many keep their fire burning and don’t mind doing more than what is asked of them. Our deep respect and admiration go to them for they are truly one-of-a-kind.

In what ways can a CNA go the extra mile?

1. Be an active listener.

How many of the staff truly listen to a patient, beyond their health complaints? To most workers who are pressed for time, taking a moment to listen to a patient express their longing for a daughter who lives far away is a luxury they can’t afford. But staying to listen to their story, holding their hand, and giving a hug goodbye is going several extra miles.

2. Give your patients a little something that means a lot.

You saw your patient’s favorite book in a thrift shop decided to spend a couple dollars on it. Or, you bring your father's old typewriter for veteran who is also a novelist. Perhaps you are caring for a preschooler who is having surgery, so you brought along a small stuffed animal to help calm them. These little efforts (without reward or recognition) can mean the world to someone battling a disease or in the last months of their lives.

3. Cover for your colleague who is undergoing personal problems.

The extra mile is not just for patients. Your coworkers may also need a helping hand, especially when trouble brews at home or in their personal lives. Perhaps you decided to give up enjoying the holiday with your family so that your nurse can spend time with her ailing mom is a special favor worth remembering and cherishing.

Although some may say that going the extra mile isn’t for the faint of heart, those who are generous enough to give more of themselves through their jobs are rewarded with seeing others smile and hearing their sincere gratitude. It is already an accomplishment knowing that you made a lasting impact on someone's life. And, if you are a CNA who is selfless and giving, take this article as recognition for all your hard work!

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