Nursing assistants play a vital role in the healthcare industry, providing care to patients, taking their vital signs and other measurements, and helping them in their activities of daily living. CNAs work in many areas, such as nursing homes, home care, hospitals, and many others.
Work as a CNA offers a rich experience and fulfills life's deeper purpose, but it comes with challenges. As with any other job, there will be days that you’ll need extra doses of patience, wit, and physical stamina to get through it all.
It’s not easy being a CNA. But a few tips from the seasoned ones can help you overcome difficulties. Here’s what to expect and what to do:
1. Caring for patients is physically demanding and exhausting.
It's a job for weightlifters and wonder-workers. Seriously. Because nursing assistants move patients from a lying position to a sitting position and from a sitting to a standing position and then back. They help patients transfer from the bed to a chair or a stretcher. They offer support when patients walk.
The lifting does not end here. They also carry heavy equipment and supplies while hurriedly going to and from patients’ rooms. Being a CNA is also a test of stamina. With only a few minutes of break, CNAs withstand long hours of standing and running.
Short staffing is also a problem in many facilities. Staff can have as many as three or four times the ideal caregiver-patient ratio. Caregivers have to squeeze in completing a pile of tasks in a single shift.
Pro Tip: The best way to overcome the physical demands of nurse-assisting to have a healthy body. You can do that by ensuring a balanced diet. If you find it hard to prepare elaborate dishes, you may choose from other equally healthy and easy to prepare options, like egg, oats, and bananas.
Eggs have a lot of vitamins and minerals, and they are also rich in proteins to help repair damaged muscles. Oats are nutrient and fiber-rich and take minutes to prepare. Top with some nuts and dried fruits on your oats, and you'll even drop some of that belly fat.
Bananas and other fruits, as well as fresh veggies such as carrot and cucumber sticks, can supercharge your immune system.
Don't forget to hydrate with water (not coffee!). Sports drinks are also good, especially if you sweat a lot.
Another way to prevent muscle and joint damage is to practice proper body mechanics. The lifting challenges are no joke as many seasoned CNAs complain of back problems after years of working. Protect yourself from injuries by being fully aware of how you position your body before moving.
Remember the basics of body mechanics: (1) have a wide base of support (feet apart), (2) move the body as a unit (no twisting of the hips), (3) flex the knees instead of bending from the waist, and (4) pull instead of push.
For the problem of overworking, you may want to consider taking the night shift instead of the day shift. Most procedures and patient interactions happen during the day, so that mornings are pretty hectic. You may also look into changing your work area, for example, from a nursing home to a physician's clinic.
2. The job can sometimes be emotionally draining and mind-numbing.
Many times, CNAs deal with difficult or confused patients. Some have to bear verbal and physical abuse from both patients and co-workers. It can be difficult to process emotions under these circumstances, and the experience can leave lasting scars. Also, CNAs see patients go for good, and it tugs at their heartstrings because of the connection the CNA shared with patients. And these would be trying times for the CNA.
Pro tip: The seasoned nursing assistants will attest that you need to toughen up to last many years in this job because it's not for the faint of heart.
You need to learn how to cope and to handle everyday stress with grace. You have to be emotionally and mentally prepared and take it one day at a time. Cry if you must a few minutes but don't give up and stand back up each time. Reflect on the cause of your anxiety.
If you are at your breaking point, give yourself a hearty breather. Take the warm comfort of being with your supportive family and co-workers. Do what you love and what makes you happy.
Find your life's purpose in your job so that all your sacrifices are not in vain. Realize that it’s ok to feel all these emotions and that there is help out there. And if you can, take this next advice at face value: get used to it, but don’t allow yourself to turn cold on meaningful human connections.
Even though there may be downsides to being a CNA, there are ways to overcome the difficulties of the job. There is indeed fulfillment in your chosen work. Embrace the challenges with vigor, and soon you'll know that it's all worth it.
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