CNA's Humiliation


  1. Hi,

    I Was advise to take the CNA certification so that I could work on it, While I'm going for my associate degree in nursing. However, one of my sisters who took the CNA program told me that the job is about cleaning the elderlies doodoos and lots of other nasty things. She herself after gotten her certificate never worked on it. Anoter sister of mine is currently a student in the medical field told me she saw the CNA's in
    the hospital and they are not treated fairly. They have no prestige. It's a real humiliating job.
    After hearing all that, it made me rethink my decision. However, I still don't know if I want to get into something like that. Can you please let me know the CNA's real job.

    Thanks a lot for your help.
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    CNAs do the basic care which includes cleaning people up if they have been incontinent. But so do nurses. I think the main problem is that we, in our society, consider this degrading. In actuality it is one of the kindest acts you can do for a person. If you think it is humiliating for you, try to imagine what the patient feels like. If you can clean them up without making them feel ashamed I think that is noble, not degrading. Any nurse or doc that tells you otherwise is an arrogant a$$. Wait until they are old and incontinent.

    But, cleaning up poop is not all you do. Baths, hair, makeup, a back rub if time permits, telling the RNs if anything is out of the ordinary... You actually get to talk to these patients which is the BEST experience you could get before becoming a nurse. Too many graduate without being comfortable with patients and their bodies. You really get over that if you work as a CNA.
  4. by   Q.
    Well said, Fergus.
    The CNA's on our floor I absolutely love and they LOVE their job. They don't focus on the cleaning up of the patients but rather the interaction with them.

    ANY role in healthcare can have it's "messy" aspects, even as a full out RN. I for one am there to help clean up my patients after delivery, blood clots and all! But nursing is more than the technical skills, the tubes, the incontinence. It's about the patient, the person, his/her family, and the dynamics of it all. Nursing is about treating the person wholistically and recognizing how what you do affects them as a whole.
    To me, that is true nursing at it's finest.
  5. by   ktwlpn
    Originally posted by hanginginthere:

    Hi,

    I Was advise to take the CNA certification so that I could work on it, While I'm going for my associate degree in nursing. However, one of my sisters who took the CNA program told me that the job is about cleaning the elderlies doodoos and lots of other nasty things. She herself after gotten her certificate never worked on it. Anoter sister of mine is currently a student in the medical field told me she saw the CNA's in
    the hospital and they are not treated fairly. They have no prestige. It's a real humiliating job.
    After hearing all that, it made me rethink my decision. However, I still don't know if I want to get into something like that. Can you please let me know the CNA's real job.

    Thanks a lot for your help.
    If you think an associate degree in nursing will bring you prestige you need to learn what a nurse really does-I hope you are not too disappointed.As for C.N.A.'s the job description will vary from facility to facility-but it is a good way to get a close up look at the routine of a nurse.Good luck.

  6. by   CJM
    Nurses's aids,nurseing assistants,or CNA's do direct patient care for patients. In general they get very little respect from professtional staff and have to put up with condescending attitdes. I found that patients appreciated what I did much more so than anybody else. They don't care what kind of degree you have,only that You treat them with kindness and concern. Not all RN's or LPN's act like I have stated but they are few and far between.
  7. by   CC NRSE
    hanginginthere,

    CNA's have a wide variety of duties depending on what state your in. Where I worked, (Alabama) they were not required to be certified so what I could do was limited. Which mostly included vital signs, cleaning, turning and feeding patients. (it may have changed that was 5 yrs ago and I now live in FL) Your sister is right, they do clean "Poop" and other nasty things but so do nurses. And yes, sometimes they are looked down upon by others. My advice to you is to give it a try. Just remember to take pride in your job and do the best you can. We are all there for the same common goal, taking care of the patients. I have been a nurse now for 4 years. When I was a PCA (patient care tech) I didn't feel as though my job was very important. Speaking from a nurses point of view, a good CNA is one of the most valuable assetts a nurse can have!!! I also gained some valuable experience that made me better prepared when I finially became a nurse!!!
  8. by   Cindy_A
    I was a CNA before I went into nursing. I worked in a nuring home and yes, you do have to clean up a lot of poop and other body fluids. I really enjoyed my job, and loved the interaction with the residents. In my opinion, all potential nurses should work as a CNA before going into nursing. If you can't handle being an aide, you probably couldn't handle being a nurse.
  9. by   CrystalUTK
    Hang in there,

    Yes, your sister was right, CNAs do clean up stool and stuff, but that is not all! I am currently going to nursing school as well...I am a junior working on my BSN...I also working in a hospital as a nursing student (but am referred to as an aid). There are times that you will be humiliated, but you have to remember, you are there for the patients and not yourself. About a month ago I ran into a situation that you might want to think about...A pt asked me a question, and the nurse replied back to the pt with the response "SHE doesnt know things like that, she is JUST THE BLOOD PRESSURE AND BEDPAN GIRL!" That flew all over me, but I went on with my job. Having prestige, you will never have...In my opinion that is. You just have to remember, whether you have an associates, diploma, bsn, etc...You are should be there for the pts and not for this so called prestige. The patients need someone who will listen and who will help them willingly.

    I will admit, cleaning incont. pts all day can get a little overwhelming and nasty at times, but it is worth it when you see the smile on the pts face...Especially when you let them no that it is ok and they are not a burden.

    Besides cleaning stool, where I work, I also: do EKGs, draw blood, give baths, backrubs...Basically anything I can do for the pts that is within the limits.

    I know I have rambled on, so one last word before I go...If you think that cleaning stool is degrading, then you might want to think again about being a nurse...Just because you are a nurse does not mean you run around giving meds all day and that you dont clean up stool or emesis. I dont mean to be harsh about that, but I know too many present nurses that think like that and that is not right! THE PATIENTS need you and that is why you should do this not because it is a job or you think it will bring in the money! If you dont want to clean up stool, then you better think about another career...Because as a nurse, you will do that to!!!!!!!
  10. by   Genista
    Hello. I agree w/ most comments in above posts. It's just a part of the job.Fergus51 had some great points too. Most patients feel embarassed not to be able to "take care of themselves." You would want to treat them w/ the same respect as you would appreciate if the roles were reversed. ;-) Working as a CNA is great experience to prepare you for nursing. I NEVER "look down" on the CNAs I work with. A good CNA is like gold to both patient & nurse. A good CNA will let the RN know about changes in the patient's condition, or things the patient has shared w/ the CNA...which helps in providing better care. In fact, a CNA I work with was telling me today how she has received so many thank you cards & heartfelt letters from patients so many times for little things she had done (like washing their hair~ when no one else had the time). They really appreciate a caring person to help them! In fact, I even met a CNA about 1 month ago who "used to be an LVN." She let her license expire, and decided to be a CNA instead, because, she "really likes working closely with people." Your sister's description of the CNA role was just her one opinion. There are many CNAs who know they do a good job & they enjoy what they do. It's all in how you look at it.Good luck in whatever you decide!
  11. by   lita1857
    I have been a nursing assistant/LPN/RN and they have ALL required the same focus "to do(no pun intended)unto others as I would have done unto myself...picture yourself as the patient and you will always get it right!when I worked in preemie nursery we had a saying before any one entered thru our big automatic doors, be it nurse/doc whoever..."check your ego at the door" we lived by that creed and our patients thrived because of it.As a CNA it will be what you make of it....What do you think of patient care?
  12. by   JennieBSN
    I personally think all nurses should be CNA's first!! We should all have a taste of what the CNA goes through. Yes, the job is similar in the bodily fluid department, but in a lot of places, the CNA's work their B***S off in comparison to the RN workload. I think everyone should experience *just once* what it feels like to be a CNA with 18 total care patients, call lights going off left and right, and the nurses sitting on their big butts at the nurses' station sipping on coffee saying, 'you need to answer those lights!' That way, you will NEVER, EVER do that to YOUR cna's. Not all places abuse their CNA's, that's for sure. Some recognize them as what most of them are...worth their weight in GOLD. I'd trade 2 so-so RN's for one good CNA any day. I say you do it. You need to do it to get a feel for the basics of nursing (which is what CNA's do) and learn time management before you go to school. Trust me, it's an invaluable experience you'll be glad you had when it comes time for your RN.
  13. by   FamilymanRNBSN L/D
    As you've done it to the least of these...

    Nursing, is about treating people as a decent human being when they are at thier weakest. Helping the pt. see the strength they have within themselves to recover and regain their health. When admitted to the hospital or nursing home pts. often feel they have given up their independance in one fassion or another. It is our role to help give that back through what ever means necessary. I to was a nurse aid, patient care tech, and an ECG monitor tech while going through nursing school. Some of my favorite stories, and interactions have come from the intimate time spent helping pts. with the simplest of tasks. Look at your job as a opportunity to connect instead of a personal quest for significance. No harm intended, we all like to feel appreciated, but sometimes we still need to do the right thing whether the audience notices or not. God is watching, your pts. appreciate you, you will be better for it. You can't teach commpassion, you either have it or you don't.
    Think of the deposits of mercy and kindness you've made or will make that no amount of human measure can possible describe. Go into this and nursing with the attitude of celebrating people on a daily, and moment by moment basis and you will never be dissappointed, exausted yes, regretful no...
  14. by   UVaRN2Be
    Originally posted by CrystalUTK:
    Hang in there,

    A pt asked me a question, and the nurse replied back to the pt with the response "SHE doesnt know things like that, she is JUST THE BLOOD PRESSURE AND BEDPAN GIRL!" That flew all over me, but I went on with my job. Having prestige, you will never have...In my opinion that is.
    ....If you think that cleaning stool is degrading, then you might want to think again about being a nurse...Just because you are a nurse does not mean you run around giving meds all day and that you dont clean up stool or emesis. I dont mean to be harsh about that, but I know too many present nurses that think like that and that is not right! ....Because as a nurse, you will do that to!!!!!!!
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by CrystalUTK:
    [B]Hang in there,

    ...A pt asked me a question, and the nurse replied back to the pt with the response "SHE doesnt know things like that, she is JUST THE BLOOD PRESSURE AND BEDPAN GIRL!"


    Wow, I am so lucky to not have to work with people(nurses) that would say something like that to me. I am a Phlebotomist/CNA. I work in a wonderful unit, at UVa. I don't know what my response would have been if one of my "co-workers" had said that to me. But I would of had a word with her in private.
    I have been upset before by a nurse or two and our attending gets a stick up her butt every now and then. But I don't take it personnally. I have been mede to feel inferior at times. When that happens, I say, "I know, I am the lowly CNA, Master." That gets a laugh and the inferiority ends. It isnt even anything that is really a big deal. But I will not be treated as someone that doesn't know what they are doing. I feel I am respected by my co-workers. I do not know the things they know. I respect the knowledge that my co-workers hold. I look up to them, But I am not inferior.

    I am very good at what I do. I anticipate what is needed by my attending, Rn's and other co-workers. If something needs to be done, I usually have it done before I am asked. I guess I am one of a lucky few. My CNA job isnt as back breaking as some others.
    I was just accepted to nursing school on early admission. I watch everything the RN's do and I ask questions about the things I am not sure of (diagnoses)and treatments. It has helped me working at a teaching hospital more than I could have gotten working somewhere else. I LOVE my job, through the blunders and everything I have been through.

    I have been told by RN's I work with, " I wish you could hang this or do that." My reply, " I could do it, I just don't have my license yet." They laugh and say, " I know you could. Hurry up and get it."

    well heck, I am totally off topic. Sorry!!
    A job as a CNA varies greatly depending on where you work. I do recommend that if you want to go into nursing that you get the experience of being a CNA before you become a nurse. If is a wonderful job that I will never regret holding. I know that being a CNA will help me to be the best nurse I can.

    Sorry for rambling..
    Meredith

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