Brand new CNA job, Discouraged, Depressed and Wanting to know, is this really normal?

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    Hey everyone. Thanks for reading... I REALLY need help/advice. Please read!

    I'm a nursing student, BSN Junior. I got my CNA (STNA in Ohio) recently and found a job pretty soon after. The pay isn't bad since I don't have much experience ($10.50/hour) which is MUCH better than the minimum wage I was used to..

    I have been at the job for about 3 weeks now....

    But okay, hear me out. The place that I work at is crazy. They are so short staffed that I usually have an entire hall or close to it all by myself. (Which is about 10-15 residents.) I am a BRAND NEW CNA and am still trying to master time management etc, and well I'm always behind because I'm still trying to master my skills and everything (because real life and classes are totally different, as we all know..)but it's even worse when there's no one to help me. I struggle to get everything done. I've already had a resident fall on me because I was assigned to answer call lights one shift, and a woman asked me to take her to the bathroom and told me she could stand up.... she did, but she fell because she was a 2 person assist and NO ONE told me that.

    Another woman also got hurt last night because she was a hoyer, but the girl that gave me orientation told me that everyone lifts her themselves because she's very light and so I did that, and my arms couldn't hold her up and she slipped. No real injuries but a scraped leg, but it was HORRIFYING. Before this happened, I literally walked around the nursing home for about 15 mins trying to find another aide to help me lift her. It was awful.

    The nurses are very uncompassionate. They do hardly any patient care, and as a nursing student I find this quite disturbing. They do med pass, some wound changes and then literally sit at the nurses station and eat/chart. The other day, a resident with c.diff that I was taking to the bathroom was screaming for the nurse, and so I went and got her. When i did, the nurse came in, asked what was wrong, and when she realized what it was, just gave me a look of disgust and then left. I was horrified! How could she not care? Did she think this work was beyond her? I couldn't give her medications, I couldn't help her in any way as I am not yet a nurse! What was I supposed to do? Let her yell and suffer so I don't bother the nurse?!

    Another night, as I was getting ready to finish my charting, a resident started shouting HELP! HELP!
    I looked over at the nurses station and there was about 4 nurses (LPNs and maybe 1 RN) that literally just ignored her. This shocked me too. Was it not their job to help them? I don't know.


    I find myself running around the entire shift, usually without taking my breaks, trying to get everything done, and putting the residents in danger because there aren't enough staff. I do the work of 2-3 people usually, and I know that many CNA's do this but I am new at it as it is and so it's even more overwhelming for me.

    I'm always behind. I hardly even get things done that I should, because I'm literally running around the entire shift answering call lights, changing people, tending to their needs, giving showers, giving them snacks, getting them up for dinner etc, and then doing the same for another person's worth of residents.

    I'm frustrated, depressed, confused and shocked that this is what this place is like. What is crazy is that this nursing home is considered one of the "best" in Cincinnati, so I can only imagine what other ones are like?

    I can't lie, I really really want to keep this job, as I need the money and the health care experience desperately. But I'm scared that I'm going to end up really hurting someone and getting sued because I don't have anyone to help me. WHAT should I do? Please please help me. I'm so confused. I feel helpless.

    I can honestly say in all sincerity that I try my BEST to do a good job and to show the residents care and compassion while taking care of them, but I seem like one of the only ones. It's just depressing to me, and most of all I really need to know if this is NORMAL. Because if it is, I don't know if it's for me. I don't like being scared that I'll hurt someone and seeing the nurses act like they literally do not care about anyone and are just there for the paycheck. I hate feeling like I can't take care of my residents because I'm too busy trying to pick up the work of another person who is floating to 2 other halls.

    What should I do? What would YOU do? Do you have any advice/insight as to what it was like for you as a new CNA? Were you slower than everyone else, making mistakes? I'd like to think that I'm a hard worker and I try my best.... but I'm truly at my wits end



    Edit: For those that work in LTC, especially the nurses, please do not tell me that I am being disrespectful or calling them lazy! I was explaining my observations, and I realize that not all nurses act like this, but rather I was referring specifically to the ones in this particular facility. I am, after all in nursing school myself Thanks!
    Last edit by futuresctRN on Oct 14, '13
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  3. 8 Comments so far...

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    Oh honey.....((HUGS))

    LTC is brutal. They don't care if you are in nursing school. You are there to do a job....the CNA job. They are not interested what you want to learn they want you to do your job.

    Being a CNA or a nurse are hard jobs.....especially in LTC. The nurses have 30-40 patients. I don't know how anyone does that job. I have only worked critical care for 35 years...I did LTAC for a while and it was hard for me there .......the patient ratios were do much higher....even though I was a supervisor I felt for the nurses and the aides.

    LTC is hard work and takes special people....or people who don't care. I have seen both.....but the staffing is normal.

    I'm sorry....((HUGS))
    besaangel, futuresctRN, loriangel14, and 1 other like this.
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    I have been in the exact same shoes as what your experiencing. When I first graduated my CNA program I got a job at a LTC/Rehab facility. I worked rehab (10 patients a piece), well the nursing home section was short so I got pulled over there. I had 15 patients from 7a-7p, it was the most miserable day of my life. For one, 10 of those patients were incontinent and I knew I could not provide the care each resident deserved. Every time I went to work I would cry and pray I would not get sent over there again. I applied for a CNA job at the hospital where I now work and I absolutely love it. I usually have 6-8 patients and have never had over 10 patients. Of course, you have days that are bad, but the teamwork is so important in healthcare. I've found the nurses and aides work very well in a hospital(well, at mine at least). Whereas, when I worked LTC/Rehab when I needed help from the nurse whom was sitting at the desk planning her wedding and gossiping looked at me like I was crazy and said "no". I knew then, I did not want to work there anymore.

    Like Esme said, it does take special people or people that don't care. I, too have seen both…95% just did not care and you had the very few that were angels from heaven.

    Remember…this does not last forever! You are half way through nursing school and the experience is priceless. When I do become a nurse, I will remember those days and if I ever have "down time" I will offer my help to those aides that truly do care.
    futuresctRN likes this.
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    My first CNA job was at a "best of the best" nursing home too and I felt the same way. It disgusts me how short staffed we were and in result how poorly cared for these patients are. Just remember that you are one person! You can only do so much and you go home at the end of the day doing the best you can do.

    I was so much slower than everyone else at first, and even the most experienced CNAs make mistakes. Try to form friendships with the other CNAs, watch them, offer to work together on the days when you have other people there. I became really close with one of the other aides at my last job and we had getting people up to a science. With practice time management, prioritizing, and all those other skills will come to you.

    My biggest piece of advice is never ever transfer anyone differently than the ADL books tell you to! Even if your coworker tells you that she's a light transfer, everyone transfers her by themselves, if she's a hoyer make sure to hoyer her! That is the number one way to protect yourself and the patients! Put the patients call light on, walk around calling out for other CNAs and say "Hey, if you help me hoyer patient X I'll help you transfer patient y"..Always look at the books to see how patients transfer and if they can walk! Don't take the patient's word for it, many of them are confused, feel bad asking for help, etc. You wont always get the right answer. If a patient falls and your employer catches you transferring 2 assist by yourself, they probably wont take "No one told me" as an excuse. Always double check to protect yourself!

    I'm sorry it hasn't been going so well for you! It took me a little while to finally feel comfortable at work. Just try to stay positive and remember you're doing the best you can! Its great experience, and if things don't look up for you there are always other CNA jobs out there. I personally found working at a hospital more of a team effort and less overwhelming than my job in LTC.
    futuresctRN likes this.
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    LTC can be terribly intimidating for a new CNA.

    First and foremost: Read the care plans! Don't go by what others tell you. Cutting corners and doing incorrect transfers are how residents and staff get hurt. Even if you are short staffed and it inconveniences another aide, if the care plan says 2 assist, use two. If something should happen and it's state reportable and if you didn't follow the care plan, it could come back on you. Don't worry about what the nurses are doing. That isn't on you; it's their problem.

    Hang in there. It takes time to get faster and more efficient. It comes with practice.
    adjappleton likes this.
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    do not cut corners! Follow the care plans. Many CNAs and nurses will take the short cuts - that's their headache. I am an RN and I follow care plans exactly. 2 assist is 2 assist. They are not moving if i don't get another person. Always put it in the legal perspective; can you get sued if you do X? If it's not following the care plan, then yes. It's sad but that's what you have to do.

    Is it normal for floors to be like that? Yes. Is it correct...not really. LTC sucks. I was working FT (as an RN) on a rehab unit and is sucked. A hospital may seem more intimidating but it's actually usually easier because *more often* there is more teamwork and safer patient ratios. LTC is often unsafe and demoralizing. Don't assume all the nurses don't care. I know sometimes my CNAs probably thought i was "doing nothing" but I was legally responsible to document on all those patients (i had to chart on all of them, it was not charting by exception); that takes time and yes I had to sit at a computer to do it aka I was sitting at the nurses station.
    Sometimes you get patients that ALWAYS yell out, you get to know the residents/pts. And yes, staff starts to ignore it because they don't really need anything/nothing is wrong - it's just part of their dementia. However I would still check in to make sure pt is okay, and try to calm them down, not completely ignore it. You see laziness in LTC, but you see it everywhere really. Just keep plugging away, you'll get it. It's slow going at first when you know NOTHING. Oh and honestly most nurses won't care that you are also in nursing school. You are hired to be a CNA so perform that job. If a nurse starts to like you, then they will sometimes teach you a little bit more but just depends on the nurse and on you.
    vintagemother likes this.
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    Are there any hospital jobs that you could apply for? The ratios are much better in the hospital and you will see more. Don't get me wrong, the hospitals have staffing issues of their own, but when I was an aide, I had at most 16 patients (on a very bad night) and on average 8-10. It was hard work, but it was manageable.
  10. 0
    Also, are there any physical therapists on when you are working? If you are having trouble ambulating patients, they are a great resource in showing you how to safely move patients. I would also bring up the lack of report you are getting to your supervisor. It is unacceptable to not know how many assist your patients are. I dealt with that when I would float to rehab in the hospital. I wouldn't ambulate a patient without knowing if they were 1 or 2 assist. It's not safe and not worth hurting the patient or yourself. Hang in there
  11. 0
    Being a CNA in a LTC setting is rough. Care cards will be your best friend, read them and follow them. They are there to cover your butt.


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