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
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.
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