As a nursing assistant, how do you see your nurse supervisor? How well do you work with them? What do you think makes a healthy partnership?
These questions help describe a CNA's working relationship with their nurse, who acts as their leader. This is an interesting topic because research says that teamwork and nursing staff engagement yield positive results. Patient fall rates decreased, and collaboration improved. It also resulted in fewer nursing staff resignations. Like Batman and Robin, CNAs and nurses can achieve more as a team than alone.
Amidst the known benefits of their teamwork, nursing assistants and their nurses do not always see eye to eye, and this creates barriers to achieving patient goals. CNAs sometimes feel they have no voice in healthcare, leading to poor partnerships with their nurses.
Here are some common sentiments we hear:
"I feel that my nurse doesn’t trust me enough. They don’t take me seriously. I wish we could work better together. I am willing to learn more, if only they would teach me!”
"I don't like to be treated like I'm some kind of robot, only following orders without a chance to give feedback or say our opinions."
"I don't mind being corrected as long as it's done with respect, even better if they also see and recognize my efforts once in a while."
Here are some ways nursing assistants can enhance the CNA-nurse partnership:
Be kind to your nurse. You may have a ton of things to do, but you can take the initiative and ask how their day was and greet them properly with every encounter.
Go the extra mile. Because nurses take on bigger responsibilities, their challenges at work are also more complicated. So, a helping hand willing to do more is greatly appreciated. "Let me help you with this," goes a long way to build stronger teams.
Send feedback. It may be scary to get your voice heard or you may feel that your opinion is unwanted, but your ideas for approaching tasks and your observation of the patient is valuable. Be confident when you approach your nurse. Your confidence will get their attention and help them listen. Remember that two-way communication is important to prevent errors, and there's no harm in taking the first step to open communication channels.
Be willing to learn. There are times when nurses' words sting. If you keep an open mind to why they said what they did, you're less likely hold it against them and feel resentful. Put yourself in their shoes. Maybe they were anxious over a potential error that could cause trouble or exhausted after working a double shift.
Show appreciation. Say thanks for every learning opportunity. If you know it’s a special day for them, congratulate them. Recognize their hard work, too.
Collaborate and work with them. Collaboration is working together to achieve a common goal. To collaborate successfully, be an active participant in every patient huddle. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Have the confidence to voice your opinions and bring your ideas to the table when the matter calls for it. Listen to suggestions and follow the care plan meticulously.
A CNA is a nurse's second pair of hands, eyes, and ears, and a valuable ally in achieving patient goals. When CNAs and RNs team up successfully, the work becomes more rewarding and something to look forward to every day.
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