Six Worthwhile Lessons Learned as a CNA

Article Categories: Environment & What is a CNA?

During this time of year, we celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week. It's a time to recognize CNAs who have shown exemplary performance and outstanding service. While few make it to the list of those who receive such recognition, each CNA will learn valuable lessons from their job as a CNA, whether or not they’re included on any list.

Every CNA learns a remarkable number of lessons in their work. Here are some learning points that make their efforts worth every minute on the job.

1. The primary lesson is perfecting a skillset for caring.

Nursing school and textbooks give the theories for practice, but only you have your unique ways of making the most efficient use of your time.

For example, you might have a technique for wrapping a BP cuff around a patient's arm without waking them up, or a way to remove a patient's incontinence pads in one quick motion, without hurting the patient or making a mess.

It's all about striving for perfection and being able to do more or better with less time and fewer resources.

2. Critical thinking makes you so much greater than just the tasks you accomplish.

Understanding why a task needs done and how a procedure benefits the patient is the essence of critical thinking. It is more than simply taking orders and carrying them out in blind obedience. As you spend years taking care of different patients, you'll become more certain about how a patient with a particular condition needs to be turned in bed regularly, for example. As you master critical thinking skills, you’ll be able to raise concerns regarding patient care and act as an advocate at the same time.

3. Life is precious, and so is health.

As you see patients come and go, some getting better and some that sadly don't, you begin to realize that life is fleeting and that it should be spent doing the things we love, being good to others, and always striving, whatever the circumstances.

You will also realize that good health can be the cornerstone of a happy life. We must guard and protect our health the best we can to live our lives to the fullest. And, in times of illness, we also need to trust the healthcare team while maintaining our independence, because this is the way to wellness or to having the best quality of life in the midst of an incurable disease.

4. Communication is key to patient care.

When you work as a nursing assistant, you learn the value of communication. Knowing how to ask for feedback respectfully, and giving patients the right information, can soothe unnecessary fears and let patient care proceed smoothly. It can be as simple as explaining a procedure before carrying it out. Communication is also important for a productive working relationship with other members of the healthcare team, leading us to the next lesson . . .

5. The only way for care procedures to truly meet patient needs is through teamwork.

When the healthcare team acts together and collaborates, they achieve patient goals. They know how to grow as a team and solve problems as a team. Teamwork dissolves barriers to care and brings out the best of each member’s talents. Those who have learned to work well with others achieve the most in any field, but especially in healthcare.

6. Working as a CNA is emotionally rewarding, despite its challenges.

Believe it or not, it's not all about bodily fluids and exhausting shifts. Beyond the physical discomforts of the job is a reward that makes the role fulfilling: The sense of accomplishment in knowing that you have helped someone recover or have given them hope.

Eventually, you will also learn that helping someone feel significant and less alone as they face their health challenges makes this job worth every second spent caring for patients. It is the sincere, “thank you” you hear from patients, families, and co-workers that wrap up each day in positivity and warmth. And, of course, gaining the insight to aid in restoring a patient's health is the greatest reward (and best lesson) of all.


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