Going the Extra Mile: Unpaid, Unrecognized, But Totally Worth It!

Article Categories: Caregiver Corner & What is a CNA?

What does it mean to “go the extra mile?” Typing those words in the Google search bar will churn out dozens of definitions and about 175 million results.

In case you are wondering where the term came from, here's some interesting trivia: “Go the extra mile” may have originated from a biblical story. Jesus’ words, "Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two," elaborate on his lesson that you should focus on doing good, even if someone treats you otherwise.

The phrase has since evolved. Today, Collins online dictionary defines going the extra mile as being willing to make a special effort to do or achieve something. It means going out of your way to do something special for someone as an act of kindness without expecting anything in return. At your workplace, it can mean giving your time, effort, and resources for someone, outside your responsibilities.

Going the extra mile is always voluntary and can never be forced, or the words lose their meaning. In today’s healthcare, compassion among workers becomes rarer each day. Seeing staff do something out of the ordinary for a patient beyond their call of duty is truly inspiring. Let's take the case of Terrie Promis, a certified nursing assistant at Piedmont Physicians Neurology.

Terrie is known in her unit as someone who goes above and beyond for the patients she cares for. Her colleagues witness her strong connection with patients, especially those with dementia. She goes out of her way to bring items they need and takes extra time to be with them when they are anxious about a procedure, asserting her presence and holding their hands.

Terrie’s aura is heart-warming. According to her, seeing her patients in distress and struggling makes her want to spend even more effort to uplift their spirits, even if it means feeling torn apart inside when she feels their pain.

CNAs like Terrie are healthcare’s soldiers on the front line, and they are gold. Oftentimes overworked and underappreciated, many keep their fire burning and don’t mind doing more than what is asked of them. Our deep respect and admiration go to them for they are truly one-of-a-kind.

In what ways can a CNA go the extra mile?

1. Be an active listener.

How many of the staff truly listen to a patient, beyond their health complaints? To most workers who are pressed for time, taking a moment to listen to a patient express their longing for a daughter who lives far away is a luxury they can’t afford. But staying to listen to their story, holding their hand, and giving a hug goodbye is going several extra miles.

2. Give your patients a little something that means a lot.

You saw your patient’s favorite book in a thrift shop decided to spend a couple dollars on it. Or, you bring your father's old typewriter for veteran who is also a novelist. Perhaps you are caring for a preschooler who is having surgery, so you brought along a small stuffed animal to help calm them. These little efforts (without reward or recognition) can mean the world to someone battling a disease or in the last months of their lives.

3. Cover for your colleague who is undergoing personal problems.

The extra mile is not just for patients. Your coworkers may also need a helping hand, especially when trouble brews at home or in their personal lives. Perhaps you decided to give up enjoying the holiday with your family so that your nurse can spend time with her ailing mom is a special favor worth remembering and cherishing.

Although some may say that going the extra mile isn’t for the faint of heart, those who are generous enough to give more of themselves through their jobs are rewarded with seeing others smile and hearing their sincere gratitude. It is already an accomplishment knowing that you made a lasting impact on someone's life. And, if you are a CNA who is selfless and giving, take this article as recognition for all your hard work!


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