You have finished the CNA training in your state, and you just passed the Certified Nursing Assistant Exam. There are many work opportunities waiting to be filled, and the future is looking bright. You probably tell yourself, "This is it… Brace yourself."
But not too fast. Other than your training and your license, you would need to know other important things to be able to start your career right, such as soft skills. Soft skills are attributes that are necessary to interact and socialize with others effectively. In contrast to hard skills, which are technical know-hows required to perform a particular job, soft skills are abilities that can be used in many different settings other than the job.
Be sure to improve these soft skills and prep yourself to tackle the daily challenges of being a nursing assistant:
- EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS. This ability tops our list because, of all aspects of providing care, communication is the key ingredient to efficiently interact with other members of the health team as well as to successfully improve a patient's health. It is also the best solution for preventing medical errors and patient injuries while giving care. For verbal communication to be efficient, it should be clear and two-way, always giving feedback if the message was correctly understood. There should not be any gray areas. Written communication, such as that is used in reporting and documenting, must be clear and accurate.
- SHARP OBSERVATION SKILLS. CNAs spend most of their time at the bedside. Usually, they are the ones who spot the slightest change in a patient’s condition, even if their medical knowledge is not as extensive as the nurse or the doctor. Seeing a patient breathe differently, or observing that a patient has become suddenly confused, and reporting these observations, for example, are life-saving acts that a CNA could do.
-BEING A TEAM PLAYER. In doing bedside care, hardly anything will be accomplished if there is no team effort. Working with a team multiplies successes and learning. It also reduces the possibility of errors. As a nursing assistant, it will be your duty to work well with other staff, most especially the nurse on duty during your shift.
-PRIORITIZATION AND ORGANIZATION ABILITIES. If you have mastered these skills, you will find the rewards of being a CNA because they will make you finish a work day without looking so beat up and haggard from all the running, lifting, and doing overtime because of unfinished tasks. You will also have your breaks on time and have that much needed meal and rest that will re-energize you to finish your shift.
-COMPASSION. Being in a caring profession as a certified nursing assistant requires you to have compassion, the most basic attribute where you can put yourself in the patient's situation and be able to see them holistically as a person while meeting their health needs. It is never just about completing all necessary tasks. Patients resent health workers who are just concentrating on finishing their shift without much regard to the person they care for. Without compassion, a CNA would not be able to get the patient’s participation in their care, and the objectives for the day will be left unmet.
BEING SAFETY ORIENTED. Even before health can be improved, the safety of the patients, as well as that of healthcare workers, is of utmost importance. Keeping safety in mind at all times will prevent many potential errors and patient harm. On the practical side, it will also save you from lawsuits.
Soft skills are necessary to be able to perform your best as a CNA. More importantly, ensuring that you have these skills as you go about your day-to-day job will ultimately jumpstart your career and make you a better nursing assistant in the process. They will also serve as your ticket to having a future career upgrade as well.
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