CNA Challenges on the Job: An Eye-Opener


Article Categories: Environment & Jobs

Every worker is faced with different challenges, but for nursing assistants, workplace problems affect them personally and can prevent them from performing at their best and safely caring for patients.



CNAs are known for their resilience on the job amidst all the different kinds of stress they encounter. They are the aides patients depend on for care, and they need to be heard.

It’s good to pinpoint the difficulties that affect a CNA’s physical and mental health so solutions can be developed. Here are the top five challenges CNAs have to deal with:

1. Work overload and burnout

Nursing assistants are usually given a huge patient load, one that would ideally be the work of two to three people. Their job also includes back-breaking tasks that involve heavy lifting, pushing, and twisting.

They always seem to be pressed for time and feeling like they need to accomplish a lot more in the last hours of their shift. The result is often unpaid overtime, even with aching backs and feet. They crave rest and sleep, and dream of quality time for themselves and their loved ones.

After some time at work, this problem seeps in and takes its toll. CNAs feel burnt out. The physical exhaustion is accompanied by emotional stress until they fall into the traps of discontent, dismay, and frustration, which have become a daily feature.

The effects of burnout are apparent. They soon experience physical symptoms such as acid reflux and high blood pressure.

2. Culture of fear

In nursing, it can be a dog-eat-dog world and sadly, it has become a silent but largely accepted part of work culture. Newbies are left to fend for themselves and even given the most unpleasant tasks by senior staff.

CNAs are frequently bullied and the road to justice may be blurry and unclear. Agency policies on bullying may be weak and management support may be lacking at times. Nursing aides also experience abuse by patients who become physically and verbally offensive.

3. Difficult patients and coworkers

Aging, sickness, and disability can be a source of significant stress for patients, so it’s understandable that some patients can be difficult to work with at times. The changes in their health are overwhelming and they become uncooperative, uncommunicative, angry, anxious, and resistant to treatment and procedures. This challenge is especially stressful because it takes considerable time and effort to get procedures going for the patient’s benefit.

4. Unsupportive management

Some agencies look after their patients well but don’t give due attention to staff, especially alongside the loud call to ensure patient satisfaction. Staff are hesitant to approach managers due to fear of rejection and lack of confidence in the system. They may have tried to reach out to leadership and got an unhelpful response.

5. Constantly dealing with sickness and death

The mental and emotional anguish of caring for patients can consume a nursing assistant's positivity. Even though you do your best, it’s not always enough to make someone better. This can be difficult to understand and endure, especially after losing patients with whom they have meaningful connections.

These challenges weigh heavily on quality healthcare services. The plight of CNAs must be recognized as a real problem and addressed with solutions that actually work. Hopefully the above challenges serve as an eye-opener for staff, management, state boards, and government bodies in order to make CNAs heard and improve their working conditions.

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