Are you a certified nursing assistant? June 13-20 is Nursing Assistants’ Week and the special theme for this year’s celebration is “Nursing Assistants: Creating a Community of Caring.” We recognize CNAs’ invaluable role in doing justice to the word care in healthcare delivery.
If you are one of the one and a half million* CNAs who are considered the lifeblood of long-term care, we salute you! This week is all about you and the impact you make in patients’ lives! It's also about remembering all your sacrifices and recognizing your efforts as a direct care worker.
What are CNAs to us?
They are heroes without capes who take on tasks many others consider unpleasant or revolting. They assist 10 to 15 patients at a time, sometimes more, when helping only one person proves challenging to most. They move tirelessly from patient to patient, changing sheets, shuffling bedpans and urinals, religiously following nurses’ orders, moving and bathing patients, and more. This is what their typical day looks like. They give of themselves and put patients’ health and safety above everything else. And they press on, amidst all the challenges.
How Nursing Aides Came to Be: A Brief History
Since it’s CNA week, let’s take a quick look at how the nursing assistant position came to be.
When World War I erupted, nurses tended the wounded and sick. The devastation of the war went on for several years, which led to many nurses feeling tired and burned out. The American Red Cross saw the plight of nurses and created the Volunteer Nurses' Aide Service, a program that trained young women volunteers to assist overworked nurses. These women volunteers were the first recognized nurse assistants.
Because the nursing aide position was purely voluntary, it did not catch on until World War II began. The Red Cross restarted the program and around 212,000 women offered their assistance. The demand for nurses’ aides rose significantly, so even after the war, nursing assistants were deemed an important part of the healthcare team. Decades later, the job progressed to a paid position.
In the 1980s, people became more concerned about the quality of care patients received. To address the issue, the government began to require nursing assistants be certified before they can work.
And here you are, the CNA of today, with the same role as a nurse’s right hand, a patient’s reliable ally, and a hard worker doing back-breaking tasks and enduring hardships daily to ensure a patient’s comfort and safety.
How badly do we need you?
Our country needs nursing assistants now more than ever. The US population is aging. In 2060, the number of older people is projected to grow to 98 million, more than double the current 46 million. Additionally, many older people have chronic diseases and there is an increased number of those with risk factors (such as smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary lifestyle) that contribute to poor health. So, direct care workers such as CNAs will play a crucial role in maintaining quality health services.
In the coming days, let the world recognize your hard work and all the effort you put in on the front lines of the healthcare industry. Your job is vital and you are important. Let your voice be heard. And don’t forget to sit back and take a moment to enjoy our thanks and appreciation!
* Includes orderlies.
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