4 Ways You Can Get Yourself Fired As A CNA

As with any job, as a CNA you have to perform your duties properly and competently in order to stay employed. In the medical field there is very little margin for error, but as humans we are bound to make a mistake here and there. There are certain things that nursing assistants can get away with as far as mistakes go. However, there are things that simply cannot be overlooked. If these things happen you will surely lose your job, and possibly your license. If you are serious about your work and want to hold onto your job, commit the following mistakes (and errors in judgment) in mind so you do not get canned by your employer!

No Call, No Show

Not showing up for work without calling in could get you fired immediately!

Not showing up for work without calling in could get you fired immediately!

As a CNA, the most important thing you can do is show up for work. This may sound like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many people overlook this important aspect of their job. If you pull a no call, no show (not showing up for work and not calling in to tell your supervisor you will not be coming in) at most facilities, you will be fired immediately. But, there are some facilities that allow you to build up three no calls, no shows before you are fired. In my opinion this is absolutely insane but (fortunately) I do not make the rules. If I did you would be gone after the first offense. Each facility will have a handbook outlining their policies on this rule.

Calling Out Too Often

Having worked as a nursing assistant for so long, I can tell you that once I arrive at work, mosey on over to the nurses station and look at the schedule, my heart drops every time I see a call out. Being short just one aid can throw all the other aids off for the entire day since we have to pick up the extra slack. If you are calling out once a week or more, you will be fired. This is not McDonalds where the worst that can happen if you don’t show up for work is that customers may have to wait longer in the drive through. This is a medical facility where if you don’t show up, the care that people receive is less than desirable because there are not enough hands to do it all properly. So, COME TO WORK or find another job where your presence is not missed as much when you feel like sleeping in.

Poor Documentation

Many CNA’s think of documentation as optional and unimportant. I know because I was one of them when I first began in this line of work. I quickly found out that I was wrong and should not have been following the influence of the other aids. Thankfully I was never caught doing it wrong and I was able to correct my behavior before it was too late. When it comes to documentation, you have to write up vital signs, fluid intake and food intake. The latter two can be difficult because some of your patients are fed by others and sometimes their trays are picked up before you get to see them. The key is to try your best to see the trays before they are taken up. If you don’t make it, ask the patient if they are able to tell you, or find the CNA that fed the patient or took up the tray. Yes this can be aggravating but it is also very important. The nursing staff must be aware if there are any dietary changes or if fluid intake is too low. And finally, you must document baths and showers. If your patient got a bed bath, mark that down. If they got a shower, mark it down. If they refused a bath or shower, document this as well. You may think that no one is checking up on your documentation, but you would be wrong and then fired.

Abuse and Neglect

The most important reason for getting fired was saved for last. I have a lot to say on this topic but will try to keep it short. In all my years of work I have seen some pretty terrible things. One of the worst was a CNA who was changing a patient who had their 5th bowel movement of the day. The patient was total care, could not move and could not talk. The aid closed the door and I was in there with the other patient. They then began to talk horribly to the bed ridden patient, saying things like “I can’t believe you shit on yourself again! You are so effing disgusting! This is the last time I am cleaning you up today!” I was enraged. This poor woman could hear and understand as she was being belittled and handled roughly, but could not respond. Had I not been there, this aid may have kept her job and abusing patients for the rest of her miserable life. Of course this is not what happened though as I reported her and she was immediately fired. The bottom line is NEVER abuse (verbally, physically, sexually) or neglect a patient. Treat each one as if they were your mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. And if you hate your family and would treat them badly, this is not the line of work for you. Not only can this horrible behavior get you fired, it can cause you to lose your license and be prosecuted both civilly and criminally.

P.S. With most every person on earth having a cell phone nowadays, the majority of facilities have ruled that you cannot even carry your phone in your pocket during work hours. Read your facilities handbook on this topic because getting caught with your phone just once can cause you to get fired.

Expert Contribution by Tanya Glover, CNA
She writes candidly about the things she encounters while working as a CNA. Some of her popular articles include Goldilocks and the Three Nursing Assistants and Nursing Home Personalities 101 

13 Responses to 4 Ways You Can Get Yourself Fired As A CNA

  1. Marie April 4, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    I read your list of things that can get you fired. I of course know all of these already as I have been a CNA for 13 years. I thought what you wrote will help a lot of people. I would like to add a few things. You must love your job. That’s what makes it worth doing. And it also helps you get to work and keep going. I Love being a CNA that’s why I do it and I’ll keep doing it until my body gives up. Also one other thing, I’m sure it’s a requirement now. But I recommend all nurses work as a CNA for at least a year. In my experience you can tell the nurses who have worked as aides before. Their more compassionate towards the CNA’s. And they tend to be the ones who help pick up the slack when someone calls off.

    • Pamela May 2, 2013 at 12:44 am #

      One Would Be

    • sinsie May 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      your right and my grandmother tells me the same thing

    • Mary Ellen September 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Marie, I agree with you about loving your job and what you do. I am currently trying to find a place local to me so that I can get my CNA certificate. I was a personal caregiver for several years and loved it. My plan is to start the LPN Program in August/2014, but I would like to start working as a CNA asap and continue to do so until I graduate as a LPN. Thank you for your 13 years as a CNA! I am sure that all of your patients love you and so greatly appreciate the care that you give them daily. We should care for the elderly or sick because we could get sick on day and need the assistance from others and we are all definitely going to grow old and need care.

  2. Jay August 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    What happens for a CNA with a DUI? Will the renewal process affect the CNA license or does the employer terminates the job position? — Will the license be revoked for renewal?

    • Heather March 15, 2014 at 5:45 am #

      With a OWI or DUI, the department of human services will review the paperwork sent in by your employer you applied to work for. I have been thru two OWI’s and was still approved to proceed with my god given duties to care for the elderly residents!One thing to look into tho immediately if you live some distance away from your job…..work permit! Apply now!

  3. Heather March 15, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    I’ve been around the healthcare scene my entire life, as my mom was a CNA, LPN, and RN. As a young girl i knew i wanted to take care of others! I recieved my CNA licence in 2009 and have worked in 3 facilities! I loved my job and i loved my residents, although at times it can be emotionally stressful being understaffed and feeling overwhelmed with how much there is to do. I feel greatly that in most places here in Iowa, CNA ‘s are under appreciated by the co-workers/ administration with higher licensing! My last job….literally broke my heart! I’ve always believed in not only standing up for myself but mostly for my residents rights! When i saw our new D.O.N verbally abuse a resident, i surely shared my concerns! Nothing was done, so, i took further action! Long story short, she kept her job, as i was treated unfairly, loaded with extra work, stayed hours even after my shift was to end, and was wrote up for things i hadn’t done! I was told i was fired because i caused a hostile environment! In truth, i stood up for what i believed in and was retaliated against, because to the end”Queen Bees”, i was a worker bee threatening their honey making (residents=only money in their eyes)! I may sound a tad harsh, but i find that people working as hard as i did and actually take the time to care properly and not quickly, that this is illeagal as all get out! I could care less about my feelings and what happened to me….but my heart broke worrying about what was gonna become of the residents my “crew” and i cared so much about! Thank you for letting me vent!

  4. Valerie Thompson August 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    I was terminated from my last job for leaving a resident in a front chair about 2 or 3 minutes before taking off her clothes and walking her to the shower bench . The resident got up and fell down and recieved several injuries. the resident had demetria, and coundn’t communicate really well with anyone. Will i be able to get another cna job for what happened to the resident

    • Natalie Simpson May 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

      what happened did u find another job? I accidently left a resident in the shower because another Cna was pulling on me and begging me to help get people up for dinner and I did not go back for 15 minutes and another cna had gotten them out. Will I ever be able to do the work I love ever again?
      I had already given my two weeks notice to get out of there. There was only a week left on my notice when this happened?

  5. lynn August 12, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    I’ve been thru the same thing,only I was’nt fired I turned in my two week notice.I worked for this nursing home and it was bad from administration on down,I saw nurse that pass meds give residents tic tac for pain pills,I’ve heard higher up talk bad to residents etc,but needless to say I coud’nt stick around anymore because I’m the one to defend myself and the residents.I have a big mouth and not settling for less every time I came in contact with higher up meaning telling them I don’t or didn’t agree with something I would would push the record button on my phone and record every conversation and it paid off because they tried to get me out and it back fired big time on them I’m no longer their but it goes to show that power trips can get you right out that same door you walked in.

  6. Alice Decatur August 18, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    I have worked in the Medical field since 1977 until 2009. I was a CNA a couple of times. I worked in a Surgical Trauma ICU for 18 years. I was a Patient Care Technician. After I retired from the hospital I decided to work a while longer in a nursing home to save some money to travel with my husband. After about a year I turned in my resignation a month in advance. Two weeks later I was assisting a patient to the commode. Upon helping her back to her wheelchair she slipped out of the wheelchair and I was fired on the spot. I was traveling when I received a phone call that I needed an attorney to save my license. We were gone for 9 weeks and I did not pursue it when I returned. I am now in a position that I need to return to work and my question is can I take the CNA course or the tests and get new license. I really need to know. I love working with people and have always been a hard worker and took very good care of my patients.

  7. Valerie October 15, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    About the resident who stood up from a chair and fell down and received several injuries. I was let go from my job , but no charges of any kind were filed. So would my background check be ok, because I am trying to find another CNA position.

  8. Crystal Anne M May 25, 2016 at 1:20 am #

    In San Diego, If a nursing facility has a high percentage of Filipino cna’s, they tend to gang up on cna’s who do their job and cares for the resident. These Filipinos consider you a threat to their laid back habit and gets you fired. The same applies to Filipino DON (director of nursing), who will fire you because you said something about how the residents are treated. So the facility will fire the lesser problem (1 dedicated employee) and keep the majority of the lazy bums because that’s how their business survives. Also, a CNA who is rated 5 star by the residents is a glaring threat because that CNA made the other ladies look bad, thus she gets the “out”. It is disheartening to see this go on in a nursing facility.

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