How to be a Good CNA

I have had the opportunity to work with many CNA’s in my career as a care provider and I have given my respect to a few and have lost respect for many.  A CNA’s job is hard but full of rewards and joys.  It can also be filled with unnecessary hardships imposed by other CNA’s who just do not care or their personalities set other people off.  The CNA’s who truly care for their patients stand out and advance further and faster than those who are average or are just working there to earn a buck.  I have seen strong men, cry like babies and never return to work when they have to change a dirty depends. Pity that really, because they had the right personality for the job.  I have seen tiny women, who look so frail, a good gust of wind would blow them away and so meek and quiet that an ant could bully them, out lift, out care and out last the toughest of aides.  Why?  Why can some people take the heat and some simply crumble?  It is not for everyone, the good CNA is the CNA with heart, who knows their stuff, can get a client or resident to do what they need to do with very little effort.  They show up on time, they don’t offer excuses or justifications, they respond well with the nurses and aides alike and they know their jobs better than they know their own families it seems.

Making a Difference: I find that if you go into this line of work, you should have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others, it is a driving force behind the good CNA.   Making a difference starts with attitude straight out of the gate.  If you are loud and obnoxious no one is really going to want to work with you let alone have you care for him or her.   In nursing home situations, often times it is the elderly who occupy these facilities and they are older and may not like a lot of ‘In your face’ attitude.  Don’t talk to them as if they are children and don’t bully or boss them.  You are working with adults not naughty children and they deserve respect and consideration.  A calm soothing attitude and a smile can often times turn an ugly situation into a more pleasant one for the resident or patient.


Toilet Talk and Family Members: I once worked with an aide who got in trouble for discussing something with another aide, who was helping her, they had the resident on the toilet and this aide started relating a story concerning someone else.  Unaware of the fact, that the daughter of the resident on the toilet could hear every word being said, she automatically assumed that the aide was being verbally abusive to her mother.  The daughter complained and the aide apologized for her slip up and promised the daughter that her mother was in completely safe hands with her.  The daughter was not satisfied with this.  It did not matter to the daughter that this aide had no negative marks in her employment jacket, not even for being late; her employment history was a sparkling example of what a good CNA was.  However, because of one incident and a related story she was suspended and eventually terminated from her position in that nursing home.  Moral of the story, it does not matter how good of a CNA you are, one related story at the wrong time can be the end of your career.  Therefore, thinking before speaking is the most important thing you can do to be a good CNA.

Respect: Often times what sets a good CNA apart from other, CNA’s is their ability to care for their residents and patients as if they were family, because family receives, better care and have boundaries.  The good CNA will be firm but respectful at all times. He or she will be approachable but not a push over.  They know their job and each and every one of their residents.  They know what gets them going and what won’t get them to budge for nothing.  They help the families; they are respectful to family members and always professional and polite.  They smile even when they are tired, they try to answer questions to the best of their ability and won’t lie to family members and they know the scope of their duties.

What defines a good CNA and sets them apart from all the rest?  Heart, spirit and the unyielding desire to make a difference.   The good CNA is professional at all times, in manner, attitude and oral conversations.  They are aware of their surroundings at all times and leave personal issues at home.  They are not crass and loud and obnoxious, they are respectful and considerate, some with quiet strength and some with not so quiet strength.  The good CNA knows his or her job and performs it to the best of their ability and above expectation.   Timing is everything for the CNA, it can be a career killer or a career builder, know when the time is for relating personal stories and under no circumstances what so ever, relate such stories in the hearing of a family member, it will not bode well for the aide that does.

Expert Contribution by Kimberly T. CNA EMT-B

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