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 

21 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

      • marjie February 10, 2021 at 3:15 am #

        i LOVE what you wrote !!!!!!!! Its sooo true. the nurses who have worked as CNAs are so different then the nurses who havent. i have been an aide for 35 yrs and im still going strong. i love my job! its very rewarding on a personal level.if one stays open to learn something new everyday in this field of work they will. i plan on doing this work until the day i get my own bed. LOL

    • 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.

    • marjie February 10, 2021 at 3:38 am #

      i have been a nursing assistant for for 35 yrs. and it is so sad that we have to go to work everyday and feel so threatened by one mistake! and unfortinatly thats all it takes in the healthcare field!!! just one mistake can change everything.its so sad its like this.This is a hard for everyone involved in these types of situations.My heart goes out to everyone in these accidents.cuz usually thats what they are====accidents.no one is perfect but sometimes i feel like perfection is expected from those of us in the medical field.

  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.

  9. Cheryl Jahnke January 26, 2018 at 11:39 pm #

    I have an employee that was not being paid as a CNA was a program assistant. She gave me her paperwork to be completed but had not completed her 15 hour of education for the year. Her 2 years has expired. And she is blaming me for not completing the paperwork. She also has a DUI and has not be able to drive our resident around for appointments and management has worked with her and finding others to cover. I know she has not completed the requirements to meet the needs of recertification. Am i not correct? How many hours of training does she need? And does she have to work so many hours in a certified facility?

  10. Audra Campos January 2, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

    A CNA picked up 2 shifts last week, policy said we can pick whatever hall you want to work if you do that. Upon arriving,she’s on a complete different area then the one she requested. She bumped a CNA off her hall she was assigned to ..then the next shift did it again and was informed she couldn’t do that and that she was not allowed to work that particular area, she had finished 1 shift and clocked out at 2:17 pm.. she left and went home. She was fired today for abandenment. Can they do that

  11. Karen April 5, 2019 at 12:27 am #

    Working at a nursing and rehabilitation center you become close with many patients. My question is if a patient wants to go home and asks for your help when they do go home can that CNA get into trouble? There is no exchange of money or anything it is just a friend helping a friend.

  12. Javonne Coleman September 19, 2019 at 5:53 pm #

    I have a friend who I am really worried about right now because when she got to work today she was informed that she was written up the day before for a resident she didn’t have because she was made to switch with a different resident. The DON told my friend that the other resident wasn’t fed but she would let the whole thing slide so she wasn’t written up. So later on she was called in the office and placed on suspension. Because the DON said she was told by a resident that my friend had told her earlier about the write up involving the other resident not being fed so I asked my friend if she did and she said she was upset and she thought her and the resident was friends because she had known her since she was little. The resident thought she was helping my friend but really she didn’t. Then my friend was told she could be charged with a civil suit and that she would have to pay the fines herself. Because she had violated HiPPA in which she never mentioned anything about the residents personal or medical business she only said the resident wasn’t fed.
    Which is ridiculous to me because earlier the DNS was just standing out in the hall in front of residents rooms talking to my friend and our coworkers about this resident not being fed. So why isn’t that a HIPPA violation

  13. Jay Fatigan February 23, 2020 at 2:40 am #

    I am a Clinical Psychologist and had ‘closed ward’ training and later ran a closed ward. All of my experience didn’t fully prepare for my wife”s Alzheimer’s. I have a 24/7 live in certified caregiver. She is great but about 2 weeks ago she took my wife to lunch and didn’t return till after 7pm. She finally answered my texts in a curt way: “She’s with me and were coming home soon”. The caregiver usually cooks dinner. When she finally arrived and said firmly “I was worried because you didn’t call or text me” I said in a angry tone “don’t do that again”.
    Tonight she did it again this time she text me at 1:30 and told me she was having lunch with her father and my wife.This time she came home at 9:05 and her tone was angry. Her behavior was such I suspected she was drinking. Her father lives 20 mile away from where we live and it was dark when she got home. Her attitude and behaviors are a threat to my wife and me.

    What are my options? I want to be fair. Other than that she has been an exceptional caregiver.

  14. Anne Martinez September 26, 2022 at 9:37 pm #

    To Jay, I understand how your live-in caregiver should be going out and living life, that should be everyone. That is how we stop going crazy inside of our own head, and do something we will regret later! Now on the other hand 1st priority is your wife, she is her caregiver period and point blank. Going to lunch with dad is a great thing, but having your wife company means she is still on duty. Alzheimer disease is not something to play with. If you add the caregiver drinks that alters a persons mind set so she could not have been watching her as well as she should have been. If anything had happened to your wife while the caregiver was under the influence she would be sitting in jail right at this moment. It does not matter how good you have done for a person, because that one mistake could have risked you never seeing your wife again. I have been a caregiver since i was 18 years old. i love my job. but if you are doing this kind of work you have to be responsible for your actions. If you let this go next time she wont be lucky to walk through them front doors..

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