1. Patient safety comes first.
It’s true that maintaining a patient’s wellbeing is the reason why you have a job as a CNA, so keeping patients free from injury is your first priority. So, go ahead and prepare their snack, but never leave them unattended or without protection if they are at risk for falls. Keeping patients safe is as simple as locking the wheels of the bed and removing clutter.
2. Nurture your compassion.
Compassion is the essence of caring. Without this important aspect, work as a CNA becomes just doing the job and is no longer truly patient “care.” Ironic, isn't it? Don't let the difficult periods harden your compassion, and always be sensitive to your patient’s needs and feelings.
3. Practice confidentiality like your license depends on it.
Social media can be fun, for lunch breaks and locker room get-togethers. Of all the topics to talk about, forget any conversations about patients with others not directly participating in their care, even behind closed doors.
Never be confident that “anonymous” pictures of undressed patients will not be leaked or shared online. This is a crime and authorities have ways to trace it back to you. Your license to practice might be taken away permanently.
Be specifically wary of seemingly harmless ways of sharing patient health information, such as improperly discarding paperwork containing patient details or showing the chart to the patient’s best friend without their consent.
Confidentiality is one of the golden rules of CNA practice, so keep this in mind always!
4. Document, document, document!
The importance of proper and timely documentation cannot be overemphasized. If you did not document the vital signs after taking measurements, they might as well have not been done at all.
Observe current documentation practices and never falsify information. Say no to the urge to record a normal heart rate, for example, because you are pressed for time and the patient has always had normal values anyway. These bad habits spell trouble for you AND your patient.
5. Have a positive attitude.
Don’t get us wrong. You can feel tired, annoyed, or frustrated while working. Any CNA could attest that, in this job, these emotions occur fairly often.
Having a positive attitude means accepting that bad experiences can offer important lessons. It’s also about training yourself to feel strong and confident, even amidst challenges.
Better said than done, you might say, but look around you. There are some people who seem to handle everything smoothly. What do they have that sets them apart from the rest of us? A positive attitude!
6. Always refer to the care plan.
Even if you feel confident in your duties or the tasks are routine and repetitive, regularly check the care plan for updates. This smart move ensures that you and other staff are on the same page.
For instance, you could’ve missed the order about a repeat urine collection because you didn’t check the care plan. Where would this carelessness have potentially led? Delayed laboratory tests and results as well as delayed treatment.
7. Know your agency policies and state laws.
Rules are rules and when you break them, you reap the consequences—as mild as receiving a warning or as serious as jail time. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so if you’re unsure about a process, check with your institution's policies and be sure to obey state and federal laws.
Luckily, rules and regulations exist not only to give you consequences but also to protect you as a worker. If you become a victim of bullying, for example, learn to use these policies to your advantage.
8. Appreciate the value of teamwork.
Patient care is a combination of individual tasks, but it is always a group effort in the end. Learn to work effectively with others, especially your nurse. Always give feedback and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Offer support to coworkers and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.
9. It's not just about knowing your patients, but knowing yourself and continually working to improve.
Looking back after years of service, you may ask yourself, "How did my life change because of this job? What did I learn? Did I become a better person, more attuned to the realities of the world and more aware the fragility of life? Do I value more my life, health, and relationships with others?"
As you can see, your work is not just a way to pay the bills. It is ultimately a way to grow as a person and to appreciate the importance of health.
Nursing assistants are valuable workers in the healthcare industry, and patients depend on them. If you are a CNA, be proud to be one and always remember these golden rules to live by!
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