CAREGIVER BLOG - (CNA, STNA, PCA, HHA)

Posted: 1/12/2018 3:56:41 PM

How to Ace Your Job Interview and Land Your Dream Job as a CNA

Whether it’s your first time or not, job interviews can give you the jitters. For some, the feeling is like having butterflies in their stomach, while for others, it’s like having an encounter with a hungry lion. Just the thought of sitting in front of a panel might be enough to make you want to faint or run out of the room. These feelings are normal, as that 10-minute meeting with your interviewer determines whether you are hired, or have to try your luck next time.



Preparing for an interview is not just knowing what to expect while you are in the room sitting across from the hiring manager. Your preparation must begin in advance, even before you complete your resume.

Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of getting a CNA application, filling it out, and handing it over to HR without looking professional or having prepared mentally. There is a chance that you could be interviewed right then and there, especially if your timing meets their urgent hiring needs.

If your application has been received and you’ve been asked to come back, then your resume made a good impression and they are looking to see if you are indeed what you have described in your application.
If you want to ace your interview, follow these powerful tips, from getting the call to interview, to signing your contract:

1. Plan ahead, but do not feel overwhelmed. Make a checklist of what to do and start from there. Research the hiring organization or facility.

2. Know the details of your application. If you say in your resume that you know how to operate an ECG machine, you should be able to tell them on which limb a color-coded electrode should be attached.

3. If you haven't been to the interview venue, it is wise to visit once before your interview to get an idea of how to get there and how much time it will take to drive there. Or, use a mobile app to help estimate the time of arrival at the venue and to navigate roads.

4. Prepare your attire. Wearing scrubs is a no-no, unless in the very rare case that you are asked to. Your appearance should be professional: no overdone or unkempt hair, no glittery or dirty nails, and no revealing attire. There is no need for a tux, business casual is appropriate, such as a suit jacket over dress slacks. Remember, no extremes.

5. Prepare to bring:

a. Three sets of a printed application—there may not be a need for these, especially if you submitted an online application, but it is best to have them on hand.

b. A pen and a notebook (or your mobile phone), in case you need to take down instructions.

c. Your CNA certification as well as a copy.

d. A CPR card, if you have it and if your state requires it.

e. List of references, who ideally should be former colleagues, supervisors, or mentors, who can say positive things about your work ethic and practices.

f. Letters of recommendation, if you have them.

6. Prepare to answer possible interview questions, such as why you chose a job as a CNA, or your professional goals after one year. Situational questions are favorites, such as describing a certain challenging situation and how you handled it. Previous experiences that taught you invaluable lessons as a CNA are frequently asked about, too. Do both mental and verbal rehearsals.

7. On the day of interview:

a. Eat a decent meal and stay well hydrated. This is the best way to prevent brain fog or mental block.

b. For women, wear light make up; for men, keep a neat hairstyle and facial hair.

c. Arrive at least 30 minutes early, and show up at the interview location 15 minutes before your appointment. Take advantage of that extra 15 minutes in between to freshen up and take a breather.

d. When you see your interviewer, maintain eye contact, smile, greet them, and be ready to offer or take a firm handshake.

e. Relax and keep an open but professional posture. It might help to think of it as more of a conversation than an interview.

f. Answer questions with confidence. If the question asked is unclear, restate the question and ask if you understood it correctly, or else politely ask them to repeat the question. It is fine to pause for a moment to think of your answer, but not a second longer.

g. Wait to ask about salary, benefits, vacation, and leave time until the interviewer brings it up.

h. Toward the end of the interview, ask about professional growth and development opportunities.

8. Wait for the interviewer to end the interview. Ask how and when to follow-up, if it was not discussed. Thank them for their time and give a firm handshake.

9. Follow instructions on how to know if you made it or not, and be hopeful.

A job interview can be intimidating, but having the right focus and confidence, while doing the above steps, could be your ticket to getting that dream job!

Try reviewing the course material on professional behaviors of the nursing assistant class from our course library.


Posted: 1/5/2018 11:27:00 AM

Successfully Juggling Work and Family Life

For many CNAs who are also parents, work doesn’t end when the shift ends. Work is only half the story of their everyday life, especially if they have young children who still need constant care and attention. Many CNAs in this situation struggle with parenting and find it difficult to juggle work and family life. Here are common challenges and some suggestions to be successful as a nursing assistant and as a parent.



1. “I don’t seem to have enough time for my kids.”

Family time needs to be the right quality and quantity, which means that, as nine hours of the day are dedicated to caring for patients, a good share of time should be spent connecting with your children, too.

Nowadays, to significantly help focus attention on kids, it helps to put down your phone. Social media use keeps you updated on what’s happening to the rest of your friends and in the world, while being unmindful of those nearby. Limit your internet use and you will be amazed at how your family life improves.

You may also need to rearrange your schedule, or change your place of work altogether. Will night shift make you more productive in the morning when your kids need help getting to school, or would an afternoon shift work best to get a good night's sleep and still manage mornings at home? You could also ask for flex-time or extended shifts for days in a row, so that you have half the week free. If rearranging your schedule still doesn’t give you the time you need, consider working part-time or finding another job within your community.

2. “I am too exhausted after work, and all I want to do at home is sleep.”

As exhaustion takes both physical and emotional forms, treat it like an enemy. Protect yourself at all costs. Take care of your own health by being well-hydrated and eating properly. Ditch processed foods and go for greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. Take supplements, especially vitamins B and C. Get plenty of fresh air and practice deep breathing exercises. Take naps and do not let TV time replace a good night’s sleep. Most importantly, leave your work-related troubles at work, because your children are a different story. They deserve the best you.

3. “I feel guilty that I cannot be the parent that I want to be."

Feelings of guilt are normal and can push you to look for solutions to your parenting concerns. On the other hand, it can also make you fixated on your perceived failures and trigger depression, which could cause your situation to worsen. Acknowledge your guilt, but do not hold onto the emotion. Do your best and think logically. Ask for help or get paid assistance if necessary.

Also, compromise with your kids. If camping out-of-state is impossible, explain that you can be manage a backyard barbeque. Be reasonable about your efforts to make them happy so that you don’t feel guilty.

4. “The chores at home take up so much time.”

You don’t have to do all the chores by yourself. Talk to your spouse or partner about sharing tasks equally. If you are a single parent, distribute chores throughout the week. Teach older children how to help out around the house. Encouraging them to do what they can may take time, but you will reap the rewards in the long run. Teach your kids how to make their beds upon waking up, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and put all trash in the waste bin. When everyone at home does their part, you will all have more fun time to spend together.

There is no perfect recipe for successfully juggling work and parenting as a CNA. But the most important thing to remember is to expect ups and downs at work and also at home, and to remain calm when a situation doesn’t meet your ideal expectations.


Posted: 12/29/2017 8:29:25 PM

Taking it to Higher Management and Getting What You Want

Not all bosses are created equal. Some can be just too difficult to approach. When nursing assistants think about talking to their nurse supervisor or manager, they may find themselves holding back for many reasons—the manager seems too busy, unapproachable, or too high-level to listen to your “trivial” issues. It can feel like trying to tame a lion!



But since your “trivial” issue could be an important matter that you do need to talk to them about, take heart and keep in mind a few simple rules to make your engagement with the nurse supervisor successful and get what you want:

1. Make sure you have not bypassed another superior, such as your nurse. Even if your nurse may be the cause of an issue that you want to talk to the supervisor about, it may not be wise to bypass them and go directly to the nurse supervisor. This can create unnecessary conflicts and could work against you. Your concern may be something that the nurse can help you with. Make sure that you have worked your way up the chain of command before engaging higher management.

2. Check policies for filing a complaint or resolving an issue. You have a better chance of being heard if your concern has undergone “due process.” Resolution may take longer, but you would be sure to cover the formal side of the matter.

3. Plan ahead. To a nurse manager or supervisor, time is everything. They already have a lot on their plates, which is often more than they can handle, so it is better to plan ahead what to say and how to say it. Know how to pitch your concern—be clear on what you want to achieve and have at least one suggestion for how to resolve the issue.

4. Choose the best time. Never stop a supervisor on their way to an important meeting or confront them in front of other staff, especially if you are expressing a problem that does not concern others. If your concern will not take up too much of their time and is non-urgent (meaning, not endangering a patient's safety), set up an appointment rather than just walking into their office.

5. Show respect and be confident. To be heard and get a favorable response, be respectful at all times. When you already have their attention, speak and do not hesitate. Holding back at this point is a big no-no because you will give the impression that your concern is not a big deal.

6. Do not be emotional. Instead, be logical, direct, and to the point. The last thing you want is to lose control of your emotions when meeting with the supervisor. Even though one of their responsibilities is to support their staff, losing control may make a supervisor focus on you rather than your concerns. So, keep your points logical and easy to understand. Do not elaborate on unnecessary details and focus only on what’s important. Tell them how the issue is affecting the team and organization as a whole. Propose a solution to your concern and ask for their feedback.

7. Ask when to follow up on your request or issue. If your concern needs time before it can be resolved, ask when to do a follow-up. This is to show your commitment as well as ensure that you do not become a nuisance when you pop into their office again asking for developments.

CNAs’ voices in healthcare are significant—it is just a matter of making yourself heard and understood amidst a high-pressure environment. Remember that you are taking it up to higher management because you see a need for improvement, so be brave and let your voice be heard.


Posted: 12/22/2017 10:59:33 AM

Creating Your Own Holiday Magic at Work

Diseases and other health conditions do not take breaks during the holidays. That’s why healthcare workers often spend some of their special holidays at work, caring for their patients.


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Whereas most people are rushing home to share personal time with their families and friends, those in healthcare such as CNAs are going to work, just to make sure that patients have the care and support they need. They think about their loved ones at home, the good food, and the great times that go hand-in-hand with the holidays, and their hearts sink. To some, missing out on the good stuff during such special celebrations can trigger depression and burnout.

CNAs have a lot of love and care to give. In this kind of work as a nursing assistant, without a big heart, it is almost impossible to appreciate one's career. Here are some tips to help you bring holiday magic to work.

1. Change your mindset.

“It’s all in the mind”—this is true. The holiday spirit should perk you up wherever you are, even when you are at work. If this is your mindset, then you will be able to go about your shift bringing holiday cheer to others. It might help to realize that patients may need more cheering up than you, and that in just a short time you’ll be on your way home. Feel blessed that you have an opportunity to be able to give back to others by offering your time and your service to those in need of care.

2. Plan ahead and suggest an open house.

If you can’t be home, let families come to an open house in your place of work and join those who work the holiday shift. Talk this option out with other colleagues and the department head, and stay positive that it will be approved. If you get a green light on this, then it is definitely an event to look forward to! So, start making your to-do list.

3. Play some holiday music.

In places where music is allowed, it may create happy memories to play some holiday music. Music can be a part of healing for patients, and a mood-setter for healthcare workers such as CNAs. If you can level it up and do some caroling within the set limits, then you and your patients are in for a good time!

4. Put up some decorations.

There is something mysteriously magical about lights and shimmering decorations during the holidays. Hang up some holiday decor where allowed, and take a second to appreciate the season.

5. Give back.

Because CNAs have big hearts, they are often willing to give more, too. During the holiday season, giving makes both the giver and the receiver happy. If you can manage small trinkets to give away and, in the process, make someone's day a bit happier, it might just be your ticket to a memorable shift.

6. Put aside issues with colleagues and have something to share with everyone.

The best way to survive holidays at work is to temporarily set your happy place to work, and then set aside the issues you may have with your coworkers. A simple potluck with lots of holiday cheer can perk up everyone's mood.

Holidays at work don’t need to be a drag if you put in a touch of creativity and stay in the spirit of the season. This time of year is indeed a special opportunity to give, not only care, but good cheer to those around you.


Posted: 12/15/2017 10:38:37 AM

Taking the Next Step Up the Career Ladder

If you have been working as a CNA for some time, you have gained a lot of knowledge and insight on the nature of the job, and now you may be contemplating moving up your career ladder. That's great! Advancing in one's career might be one of the best decisions you would ever make in your life!



But before pushing that ‘let's go' button, there is some news to get excited about and some very important things to consider!

1. The pay scale increases with career advancement

CNAs make an average of $12-13 an hour. Stepping higher up the career ladder and becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) will raise your wage to an average of $21 per hour. That's an additional $17,000 plus annually! If you take the challenge further, you get to work as a registered nurse (RN) and your salary will jump another $10 per hour because an RN receives an average of $32 an hour. Annually, an RN takes home $68,000!

2. As you advance in your career, responsibilities increase and accountability increases

This is good news and comes with the need to have some degree of a 'be extra mindful and careful' attitude. Nursing assistants’ main duties include providing basic care to patients, transporting patients and maintaining the cleanliness of treatment areas and the bedside. On the other hand, if you become an RN, you get to take charge of the nursing care plan and do complex assessments, interventions, and evaluations of patient conditions. RNs perform health teachings and difficult procedures, so if you become an RN, you will more accountable for bigger things.

3. Education and training will be a lot tougher and more expensive as you advance

If you decide to become an LPN before becoming an RN, you will need to pursue either a diploma or associate degree education. Take note that a diploma is a shorter and less expensive program, so you get fewer credit hours. The good news here is that you can work as an LPN earlier.

If your end goal is to eventually become an RN, then an associate degree program is the way to go. Although it takes about two years to complete the education, and it is more expensive than a diploma, the credits can be used to advance to an RN degree. In both cases, you need to pass the NCLEX-PN board exams to get licensed.

Becoming an RN straight away without going through the LPN stage is possible, too. To be an RN, you'll need either an Associates of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree which you can take for 2-3 years or you can get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in 4-5 years.

If you are really serious about pursuing this path to career advancement as an RN, you must give it due diligence when searching for the right information so that you will be able to make informed decisions. When looking for a nursing school, choose only those that are recognized by the state and accredited by the National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education AACN-CCNE.

After knowing the school's accreditation status, choose one that has a high NCLEX passing rate, or the number of nurses who passed the exam over all those who took the exam. The high passing rate will give you confidence that you would also do well when it is your time to take the nursing board exam.

Look for great deals. There are many schools with an excellent reputation and with reasonable fees. Check scholarship grants and student loan services, too.

Plan ahead – way ahead. This means considering if an LPN or a Nursing associate degree program could be a stepping stone to taking BSN. Remember that to achieve a BSN degree, you will need considerable commitment, time, and money.

After gathering all necessary information and weighing all your options, and you are still planning on a goal of working as a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree, then the high wages and vast opportunities await you! You should be on your way to greater achievements!

Try reviewing the course material on communication skills class from our course library.


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