Nurses have a lot on their plates, often tasked with doing more critical thinking, patient assessments, and evaluations than they may be able to handle in a day. It is not uncommon for them to think, “Hey, I only have one pair of hands, and they’re full!” That’s true. Nurses can take on only so many responsibilities each day, and help is badly needed for them to be able to survive each shift in one piece!
It is in these situations that the importance of a nursing assistant's job becomes obvious: to be the nurse’s extra pair of hands, eyes, and ears, because CNAs spend the most time at the bedside. Nursing assistants work closely with nurses when it comes to patient care, so establishing a good working relationship with each nurse is the best way to achieve care goals.
Picture this scenario:
A nurse wants to monitor a patient’s condition and ensure that they are turned every two hours to prevent them from developing bed sores. But they cannot stay longer at the patient’s bedside because another patient needs more urgent attention. So, the nurse tells the CNA to take the patient’s vital signs and observe and report if they see any changes in their condition. The CNA measured the vital signs, kept the nurse updated with the patient’s status, and repositioned the patient every two hours. The nurse had left “a pair of hands, eyes, and ears” at the patient’s bedside, through the mindfulness of the CNA.
The perfect Nurse-CNA team has one mind and several hands to do the job. The nursing assistant’s main responsibility is to take on simpler tasks from the nurse while being in constant communication with them. The role can take many forms, but may center mostly on assisting clients in performing ADLs or Activities of Daily Living, keeping the environment and equipment clean, transferring and transporting clients, and ensuring that the stockroom has enough supplies.
These tasks are a challenge by themselves, so imagine a nurse’s life without CNAs! Without nursing assistants by the bedside, any nurse would be out the door, considering the overwhelming fatigue and impossible deadlines. CNAs are indispensable to RNs, so every nursing assistant should take pride in their work and maintain a harmonious relationship with their nurses, as they are a team.
To be part of a team, CNAs must be able to communicate and collaborate well. To communicate means to send a clear message, understand what is being said, and then give an appropriate reply. Collaboration takes the aims of communication further, and means being able to exchange ideas while working on the same goal.
Giving and receiving feedback is essential to this teamwork and achieving patient health goals. A two-way communication ensures that RNs and CNAs are in sync and, therefore, able to prevent errors due to miscommunication.
Other than communication and collaboration, there must be mutual respect between nurses and their assistants. As CNAs, showing respect will open up learning opportunities, because nurses would be more willing to share their knowledge with a CNA who is respectful. Doing tasks properly is another way to show respect because a CNA’s work reflects on the nurse’s work, too.
CNAs are indispensable to RNs, but CNAs need to perform their duties well and ensure real teamwork in order to achieve health goals and improve the patient’s well-being.
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