Lil late but figured I'd chime in...
I've been a CNA since 2004, and did homecare for a year privately before I got hired on with my first agency. I was thrown into a nursing home and i literally had no idea what i was doing or what needed to be done as I hadn't been in a nursing home since my cna training over a year before.. then i was put in a hospital, a small one, dayshift, 12 hr shift... fastward about 2 years.
I very quickly learned that i could refuse shifts, (i only do nights and occationally evenings), refuse types of facilities (all nursing homes are a no-go for me.. ive worked maybe 5 shifts in em, ever.. and i suck at them lol) and strongly prefer hospitals and psych units (and ONE assisted living place that rocked heh) Didn't take me long at all to decide what i liked and what I didn't. There is one hospital id only work at if i was desparate for money cuz i always got a bad vibe from that place.. but it usually wasnt a big deal. If your willin to help them out every so often for a "oh crap, a shift just came up! help!" shift... and u sorta set the rules and work enough for them, then they'll help you out too.
Id pick up on things fast... try to figure it out on my own and if i couldnt figure it out, i'd ask someone and theyd usually show me with no problems. I also watched people intently, and listened..to see how the nurses talked to the psych patients to redirect them and calm them down etc.. As i got the hang of the smaller hospitals, and got to know all the staff on nights and requested back... then i was put on the floor of the affiliated larger hospitals, where usually the nurses were eternally greatful to see me as there were 30 patients to a floor, and i was the only CNA on nights.
i learned how to chart electronically on the fly because at the time, the hospitals didn't have any formal comp training for agency cna's (now they do!) (ha! once i worked a unit i was very familiar with for a 16hr shift cuz of a snow storm and lack of people able to make in to work at 11pm - and the hospital had just launched a bran new charting program the day before... after asking nurses how to put in my vitals and I&O's, and after charting all 16 hrs on my 30 patients over and over, i got the hang of it real quick!).
Usually im pre-booked with the hospital, but dont know what unit until either a phone call confirming im for sure working 2 hrs before the shift, OR i show up to the hosp and find the staffing office and they tell me where to go..
then i show up, and if its a new unit And if its a floor-shift instead of sitter one, then I always ask what is their routine for things on that shift, like when/who does vitals, daily weights, i&o's and any other quirks. Then i ask for a brief tour of the unit...so i know linen, dirty utility, med room, supplies etc... and then off I go. =) and write down my nurses names on my census sheet, so i know who to ask for when i have an abnormal blood pressure or whatever.. Ask questions when i need to, but try to figure out stuff so im not annoying. OH! And i keep sticky notes in my pocket to pass on stuff to nurses, and to jot down important things about the unit...like their routines, any special tricks unique to that hosp or floor, and things Like the code to get in the break room for future use, so i wont have to ask again =) keep it all close by so when i go there again in 6 months, i still have it handy =)
I'm just about done with Nursing school now..and by July will be ending my career as an Agency CNA. (i did end up working at one hosp part time to supplement my income for a yr and 1/2).
Since March 05' when I was 20, I have worked at 13+ hospitals, 6 psych units including a lock down group home for schizophrenics (which was pretty interesting and they kept offering me a job tho the pay was lower, and I like the variety of agency too much), 1 assisted living facility, etc... Even once I got sent to a tiny 12 bed hospital at a local beach (2 1/2 hrs away). They paid my gas and my hotel.. i did an evening shift, went to bed, then did a 12 hr day shift (special circumstances for me, usually i didn't do days but it sounded fun hah which it was!).
As a side note...I've learned *SO* much in the last 5 years its amazing... and everything has helped me get through nursing school! My evals always talk about how i can enter a new hospital/unit and figure things out, that I'm very indepdent but ask for help when its appropriate, very comfortable in a hospital, and i get along well with all of the staff, that i dont let it show when im overwhelmed hah "nerves of steal or a very good poker face" my prof told me last wk heh
I was kickin myself before that i hadn't gotten into school sooner... but now i wouldn't trade it for anything.
I also really wanna do travel nursing when ive been a nurse long enough. =) can't wait! I also think it'll be REALLY weird to work only at one hospital for a year... cuz even when i worked at one hosp, on one unit... even tho the overtime wouldda been waayy more, I picked agency shifts instead cuz I'd get bored or burnt out goin to the same place all the time hha).
Anyway..enough blabbing! =) Sorry hah