Pretty down about being a new CNA

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    Hello everyone. I am currently working at a pediatrics LTC. I'm 20, but I'd say I'm pretty lanky, around 5'10. I'm also one of the very few male CNA's there. I'm a little down because I recently got a back strain, and now I will be unable to work for a week. I had to 'dump' my patients on another CNA, while I went to the urgent care. And I've already been working there for almost three months.

    I'm very grateful that I'm able to work with children, (being that majority of CNAs work sub-acute) but some of them, especially the teenagers are heavy. Some of the girls I work with pointed that I should start going to the gym more because they really need MEN to help them lift patients. I'm the lightest male CNA at my facility, so I'm not very strong.

    I'm really trying, but I'm also hurting myself in the process. I know I should stand up to these girls more, and I will. I just need a little advice.

    On the other side, I really want to become a Nurse, I love my job, it's just I find the lifting all the time, very stressful. The people are also stressful, but I ignore them. I also am thinking of ditching my plans to go to RN school to being a LVN/LPN, because it's quicker. I was originally planning to work as a CNA while I try to earn my ADN, but I don't think I'll be able to work as a CNA for three plus years. And I think the LVN-RN bridge programs will be easier to get into.

    Thanks.
    OhioTry and Nursing pursuit like this.
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  3. 13 Comments so far...

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    I'm a brand new CNA. I currently work on in an adult LTC facility, occasionally being sent to the adult sub-acute side. So I understand how physically demanding this job is. You need to take care of yourself first so that you don't worsen your back injury. You may want to consider physical therapy if possible. Back injuries can be absolutely debilitating. However, the physicality of this type work won't get any better once you become a nurse. So it is in your best interest to increase your strength and core strength.

    Now as to becoming an LPN/LVN or an RN... go for your RN. The only place you can work as an LPN, at least in my state, is in LTC. This isn't to say you can't legally work in a hospital, it's just that no hospital will even look at if you're not a BSN RN. Everything my nursing instructors have said is that LPN programs are closing down. They are now regarded as a stepping stone to becoming an RN.

    Becoming an LPN may be quicker than becoming an RN, but you'll have to get your RN eventually so I say skip the LPN and go straight for your RN.
    gonementallytoday, GrnTea, and OhioTry like this.
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    Hey evack5318! Going for your lpn then doing your RN is a smart choice and I'll tell you why. When you go through the LPN program the classes you take should overlap with your RN classes making it easier to go through this rigorous RN program. Plus, if you can get into a hospital they can even help you pay for your education to be an RN. This is a good route to take, you'll be prepared financially and academically. I hope you find this helpful.
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    Thanks for your responses, guys. I figured, sooner or later I'd have to hit the gym. lol. I am going to physical therapy, and when I'm cleared by my therapist, I'll start lifting some weights. As far as my nursing options go. It's a tough deal to make. I am going to become a nurse, and If I go LVN/LPN, that means being limited to only LTC or doctor's offices. It will take around a year for schooling. On the flipside, I could just stick out for a year and a half at my junior college and apply to the R.N program, and within two years, get my license -- eventually go towards a BSN. My goal is to one day work in a hospital's ED

    I may just avoid LVN all together, the biggest reason I was considering it was because they seem to do all the physically light work, as compared to the CNA's (in LTC) who are going around lifting people all the time. Nurses do it on occasion, which doesn't sound like a bad deal, and I'll get to save my back instead of working as a CNA for three years until I become a R.N. I could also find lighter CNA work like in Assisted Living.
    Nursing pursuit likes this.
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    Do they have lifts to help you with the teenagers. You should not be lifting people on your own like this. At the very least two of you cnas perferably two males should be working together. You are young and do not want to get a back injury that will be with you for life, and then all your hopes of being a nurse or for that matter any other careers would be hindered or even taken away from you because of life long back problems. Also remember to do stretching exercises before your shift. They will help a lot to make your back feel better and get it prepared to start the long day of working.
    Retired APRN, GrnTea, T.H.R.N., and 1 other like this.
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    I wanted to point something out.. yes, CNAs might do lifting and repositioning more often than the nurses themselves, but you will not be exempt from doing it. You seem to understand that.. but, you also seem to think that back injury is inevitable in the nursing profession. You need to practice your body mechanics and lifting techniques, and utilize mechanical lifts whenever possible. Do not do heavy lifts without another person (or people!) helping you. As a male, yes, you will be the 'go to' person for lifting since it will be assumed you are stronger, but never let yourself be the only one putting forth effort. Your female coworkers should be asking for your help, not for you to do it for them, and they should be exerting as much effort as you during the lift.

    As a side note, becoming stronger and more physically fit has many benefits outside of the workplace. As a 2nd semester RN student who has been doing weightlifting 6 days a week for 3 years, I have to say it is the best lifestyle change I have ever made.
    Krzysztof, GrnTea, T.H.R.N., and 2 others like this.
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    Yes, I did lift some of the lighter patients on my own. I could easily lift some kids. Sometimes when I work with females, which is the majority, I feel like I'm the one exerting more, but when I work with a male or an experienced CNA the day seems easier. Two CNAs always work together by the way. I have a simple back strain, so I should make a recovery. I'm just glad I brought my back pain to attention before it got really serious. I'm just a little depressed about it because I just started working there.

    I will continue to improve on my body mechanics and strength.
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    Quote from evack5318
    As far as my nursing options go. It's a tough deal to make. I am going to become a nurse, and If I go LVN/LPN, that means being limited to only LTC or doctor's offices. It will take around a year for schooling.
    Evack5318: going to get your BSN right off the bat is a smart idea....especially if you are thinking ED. I've worked in VA, CA & now Illinois and I see the same trend---LPNs are in LTC & Dr's offices. The scope of practice for the LPN/LVN continues to grow smaller--the exceptions I see (which are very few & far between) are the senior LPN/LVNs that are grandfathered in but being "gently encouraged to go back to school or leave.

    As far as lifting- oh boy! I never worked as a CNA (or RN) in LTC but I taught a set of clinicals at one and I saw the CNAs bust their butts! HOLY COW!

    But as an ICU RN (with plenty of friends who are ER nurses)- I can personally attest to the amount of lifting, boosting, turning etc nurses do with our patients. It is physically demanding work and as you are experiencing first hand your back is a precious commodity! Never lift patients on your own, bend with your knees and use a lift (and other available equipment) when they have it!

    Hoping you heal quickly!
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    I think one mistake men in this field make is trying to "save the day" for our female counterparts and you (the OP) have just proven that men can just as easily get hurt. Dude don't try to be a superhero because by the time you are 30 you won't have a back left. As for going to the gym and needing more men, your female counter parts should really consider going to the gym themselves.
    A lot of moving has to do with: 1 knowing your limits and 2 asking for help even if you are a guy and may feel embarrassed to ask the female CNA's for help, but as you can see men get hurt to.
    I'm a nursing student and last year in one of my clinicals this female CNA wanted me to pull and transfer this guy to another bed, I told her I think we should get more help and mind you I'm not weak nor feeble but the patient was big and the angle of pulling would have really strained my back if I was doing it alone. She thought I was being rude and we switched places so she did the pulling while I do the pushing using a transfer board. We got it done but I still told her she could hurt her back doing that and we should have gotten more help. As helpful as I am, I'm the kind of person who jumps in to help everyone and anyone, but I'm not foolish...if I'm not comfortable with something someone's gotta help me. If we use more team work CNA and Nursing back injuries will be greatly reduced.

    EDIT: Once there are enough people to help a transfer really takes less than 5 seconds and everyone back will be saved. You will also find that as you move from CNA to nursing, some RN's have the thought that moving a patient is no longer their "job" and they leave it all to the CNA's...so you could say you would be lifting less as an RN if you want to be that type of nurse, but I won't. Also as an RN, their are many other areas you can get into where patients are able to walk and transfer themselves.
    Last edit by ArrowRN on Jan 23
    Krzysztof likes this.
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    First off, I did LPN first for financial reasons. Some you could afford to go to RN first but I could not. I seen a $19/hr paycheck was better than my $11 for an aide. RN school alone here is 2 yrs, plus 18 months of prereqs. LPN 1 yr. It was financially more sound for me to do.

    Secondly, it is unfair of them to expect you to help lift every pt. That means the ratio of lifts are going on you. If Susie has 3 lifts and asks you every time and Kathy and Megan, you're doing more lifts per day. Stand up for yourself and say no. That's sexist


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