Hi! I've been a CNA for 1 year.
My advice to you:
1) School and the real world are completely different.
Sometimes, rules must be bent for the benefit of the patient/resident. For example, in the school setting you would ask a patient if
they want to shower-- because it's all about patient freedom of choice, right? As you start working, suppose you realize this patient has refused to shower for 3 or 4 weeks. A better way to ask him/her would be to gently say, "When do you want to shower-- before dinner or after dinner?" That way they still have a choice in their care, but you're more likely to get them to shower than if you just asked if they wanted
Time management is the first skill you need to learn; otherwise you will fall behind and feel terrible/overwhelmed about not finishing your work.
2) Don't let coworkers' nonsense get to you. You're there to work; just realize that some adult women still like to hang out in cliques. Just like high school.
If they talk smack about you, ignore it, go out there and prove them wrong. Don't just sit and be upset about it-- if you show them that you don't care what they say, that you're trying to improve your work every day...they have no power over you.
That said, be open to constructive criticism. Not every coworker is out to get you, and you can learn from the experienced ones. The key is to decide what is a good habit to imitate-- maybe the other NA has a better transferring technique than you do? -- and what is a bad (read: DANGEROUS) habit (i.e. not wearing gloves, gossiping instead of working, swearing in front of residents, making up vital signs, etc.).
I wish someone had told me all of these things before I got thrown into the big ugly world. Healthcare systems can be extremely dysfunctional; my supervisor recently decided to buy the staff a cappuccino maker instead of ordering us a much-needed vitals machine.
Despite all this, I believe you'll have moments where residents will touch your heart and make themselves unforgettable--even after they pass. We can learn many things from the choices we make and the people we meet. Remember why you chose to do this in the first place. I wish you a very happy career!