Nurse assisting is a tough but rewarding job. A big part of the help CNAs get while on the job is from the proper use of tools and equipment that make their tasks possible or more manageable. And, even when new technologies replace traditional ones, it is still good to be skilled in using both.
For CNAs, here are the common tools and equipment they use while on the job:
1. For taking vital signs: stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, thermometer, and a watch with a second hand
One of the primary responsibilities of a nursing assistant is to monitor vital signs. To accomplish this task, they must have a quality stethoscope to hear pulse beats when measuring blood pressure.
In some settings such as hospitals, they use digital equipment to measure blood pressure, but it is still advisable to have one with you at all times.
In some cases, such as when CNAs work in home health care, they may need a sphygmomanometer—a piece of equipment with an inflatable rubber cuff and a measuring device that shows blood pressure readings.
To check the pulse rate, a CNA also needs a watch with a second hand to ensure that they count the pulse for one full minute. If not, a smartphone with a timer will do.
Another tool for CNAs is the thermometer to measure body temperature. Usually, patients have traditional thermometers such as the axillary type kept at the bedside for their personal use. Most hospital settings have the newer digital types, used in the mouth or ear.
2. For wound dressing: Tape and scissors
In some states, CNAs are tasked to change the dressing of an uninfected wound. For this, the nursing assistant must have tape for securing bandages and scissors for cutting gauzes and tape. Scissors also come in handy when there’s a need to cut open packages.
3. Mobility aids
CNAs move patients in a variety of ways. They help them stand, sit, walk, and get up from the bed. They also transfer patients to different areas for treatments and procedures.
Gait belts are a must-have for moving or transferring patients. A gait belt is strapped securely around the patient's waist, and the CNA holds on to it instead of pulling on the patient’s clothes or lifting them under their arms. Without gait belts, it’s hard to control the patient’s movements as they walk or change position.
Wheelchairs and stretchers are used if the patient is too weak to go to treatment rooms and diagnostic departments.
Lifting patients without the right equipment is unsafe for both the CNA and the patient. Never hesitate to use a lifter whenever necessary, or else you risk injuring your back or causing the patient to fall. This is a form of self-care on the job, while also ensuring patient safety.
5. Hand sanitizers
Handwashing is the most basic way to prevent the spread of infections, but when that's not possible because of some urgency or there's no sink nearby, the proper use of hand sanitizers will do the trick.
We know how work in healthcare can become extra fast-paced, and still, we must keep diseases at bay. Hand sanitizers, though convenient and easy to use, should not replace thorough handwashing.
6. Fanny packs or organizer belt bags
Many CNAs find that having a small bag to carry around with is a life-saver. Organizer bags keep small essentials in place, instead of having to rummage through your pocket every time, or worse, run to the nurse station or supply room to get a tool that doesn’t fit in a small pocket.
Personal Protective Equipment are the indispensable tools of a CNA, such as gloves, masks, goggles, and gowns. PPEs prevent the CNA from getting infectious diseases from patients and spreading microorganisms that cause infections.
Nursing assistants are required to use these any time there is a possibility of touching blood or body fluids. CNAs must follow all instructions regarding PPE use.
Some smartphone functions that can be indispensable are the clock, the timer, unit converter apps, calculator, web browsers, and of course, the call and messaging functionalities. Although smartphones can also be a source of distraction, like using social media while at work, they prove very helpful if used in the right manner.
To be successful as a CNA, you have to know what equipment to use as well as when and where to use it to help you perform your duties better. Those who take advantage of these tools get the most out of their day.
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