Your Voice Matters

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Certified nursing assistants make up part of the healthcare industry's front-line employees, and they spend the most work hours with patients. So, what they have to say matters, whether it’s about their patients or their working relationships.

Feedback is giving information or a reaction regarding a person's performance or a workplace issue, for the purpose of improving overall patient care. What can effective feedback do? Think of it as oil for a squeaky machine. Without it, it is hard to move forward smoothly, achieve patient safety goals, and reach the organization's objectives. If done correctly, feedback can also boost employee morale and support careers. Additionally, it encourages collaboration within teams.

How would you rate the impact of CNAs’ voices within your organization? If you are a CNA, how do you give and receive feedback?

Here are a few questions to find out where you are on the road to improvement through feedback. Give each question a score from 1 to 5. Assign a score of 1 if you strongly agree and 5 if you strongly disagree.

1. I do not hesitate to talk to the nurse supervisor regarding important patient safety issues.

2. When the nurse and I talk about patient care, they ask me for my opinions and suggestions.

3. When I comment constructively on a colleague's behavior, I do not get harassed for doing so.

4. Providing feedback is encouraged in our unit.

5. I voice my opinions and contribute to the group when attending huddles and meetings.

6. When I give feedback, my colleagues listen and acknowledge my ideas and suggestions.

7. When my colleagues point out areas of improvement in my patient care, I listen and do my best to improve my services.

8. There are effective ways of giving feedback in our organization, other than simply verbal communication.

Add up your scores. A total of 28 or higher indicates that the feedback mechanisms in your workplace may need changed for the better. Remember that, as a CNA, your suggestions are indeed valuable.

Here are some ways to boost your feedback power:

1. Check your intent.

Is your purpose to encourage positive behavior? Is your criticism constructive? Do you have a hidden agenda to put a colleague down or criticize them personally? When you share information, your aim must be to provide safer and more efficient patient care or to improve working relationships.

2. Avoid labeling the feedback.

Feedback is neither positive nor negative if done in the right manner and through the appropriate channel. To avoid appearing too negative, focus on the behavior and not on the person. Stick to the facts and avoid getting personal. Explain how the behavior affects patient care or the teamwork.

Say, “I noticed the equipment is not properly washed with soap and water as it should be,” rather than, “She just washes the equipment under running water for a few seconds, and she does this all the time.” The first statement gives information and discusses the behavior while the second focuses on the person and ends with a vague and judgmental comment.

3. Do not hesitate or wait for “the right time,” especially if the issue is about safety.

Give responses immediately, as this is the right time. Waiting until the nurse or chief nurse becomes available or is in the right mood is not practical and allows for errors. The same must be done when giving feedback about a colleague. Did you notice that another CNA took extra time to stay longer with a grieving family? This is a positive behavior worth recognizing! Inform the colleague that you saw their effort and tell them how inspiring it was. You might just make their day.

4. Always make sure that you have understood what was said and that you've been understood in return.

Sometimes, information can be misinterpreted, especially if it is unclear. Repeat what has been said and ask if it is correct, or ask the person receiving the message what they understood, so there is no grey area.

5. When receiving feedback, consider the information regardless of how your co-worker said it.

Your colleague may sound judgmental and overcritical for many reasons. Instead of taking it personally, use the opportunity to learn and work toward your own improvement.

Feedback is a powerful tool in the healthcare industry. It helps build effective teams and reach organizational goals. Learning how to both give and receive feedback is critical to your success in the long run.

Try reviewing the course material on active listening class from our course library.


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