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Already struggling as a cna

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by Sammiegurl87 Sammiegurl87 (New Member) New Member

501 Visitors; 9 Posts

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Hi everyone,

so earlier this year I decided to go train to be a cna so that I could be a good nurse. Last week was our first full week of clinicals. I know i need to gain more muscle because transferring has been difficult. But that's something I can and will work on. So far I'm comfortable with the bathing, toiletting, cleaning, giving food trays, etc. but I am not doing so well with taking vitals. They put me to work Friday morning by getting 4 vitals. I was so slow. It took me a minute to untangle the equipment and figuring out which vital sign to get first. I also had a hard time putting the blood pressure cuff on the patients because they were lying down and I couldn't do it right. My instructor gave me some feedback and said that I need to be more assertive and be quicker taking vitals. I'm going into nursing school in the fall and I'm worried that I'm too slow for this work. I don't think my instructor has any faith in me because all the other students are right on top of the work. I'm a slow learner, but I'm book smart and got almost all As in my prerequisites. Is this something I'll get better at or is being a slow learner going to hurt my nursing school clinicals and my cna job? Also any advice on putting the cuff on? I'm also worried I'm too shy and insecure but I work at a group home and have been able to take care of others. I'm just feeling like I'm not good enough right now. Any advice would be great. Thank you

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meanmaryjean has 40 years experience and works as a Nursing Faculty.

49 Likes; 3 Followers; 63,692 Visitors; 7,496 Posts

How did you do the first time you tried to ride a bike? Roller skate?

How are you now?

There's your answer!

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AnnieNP has 20 years experience as a MSN, NP and works as a Nurse Practitioner.

49 Likes; 1 Follower; 2,935 Visitors; 346 Posts

I like meanmaryjeans response!!!! You will get it, just practice. Practice on all of your friends and family!

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77 Likes; 9,197 Visitors; 1,371 Posts

Being a CNA or a nurse is just like any other job it takes time to learn and to become confident. I think it took me about 2-3 months as a CNA before I really felt like I had my feet under me and when I changed jobs it took about 3-4 weeks for me to be comfortable in the new setting. It was the same with jump form CNA to RN, the first couple of months were rough and as time has gone on I've become more confident and gained skills (though I still learn new things every day it seems). My guess it you learn physical skills slower, but once you have the muscle memory down you will be fine. Practice, practice, practice and you'll get there.

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66 Likes; 1,606 Visitors; 360 Posts

It took me a minute to untangle the equipment and figuring out which vital sign to get first. I also had a hard time putting the blood pressure cuff on the patients because they were lying down and I couldn't do it right. My instructor gave me some feedback and said that I need to be more assertive and be quicker taking vitals. I'm going into nursing school in the fall and I'm worried that I'm too slow for this work. I don't think my instructor has any faith in me because all the other students are right on top of the work. I'm a slow learner, but I'm book smart and got almost all As in my prerequisites. Is this something I'll get better at or is being a slow learner going to hurt my nursing school clinicals and my cna job? Also any advice on putting the cuff on? I'm also worried I'm too shy and insecure but I work at a group home and have been able to take care of others. I'm just feeling like I'm not good enough right now. Any advice would be great. Thank you

Advice: Stop overthinking, just do it like you've been doing it for the last 10 years. You're not going to break the patient.

As for figuring out which vital sign to get first... here's what I do: I put the cuff on (you get faster the more you do it) put a pulse ox on a finger on the opposite hand, start the blood pressure, stick a thermometer in their mouth and don't take it out until I count their breaths. All of it is done at the same time. Machines are great because they can multitask.

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blue0714 has 25 years experience and works as a Case Manager.

510 Visitors; 13 Posts

[h=3]Hi Sammiegurl87,[/h]

Guess what? Just the fact that you care about all the details and accuracy of what your'e doing? Puts you way ahead of lots of others. Keep up that dedication to everything your'e doing for your patients and YOU WILL SUCCEED! That's a promise :yes:

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21 Likes; 1,273 Visitors; 99 Posts

You'll get better the more you do, like others have said. You're lacking confidence too bc they are new skills. Before you go in to do vitals, give yourself a mental pep talk. "I can do this, I'm getting better every day." Also if you have fail along the way consider it a learning experience and don't beat yourself up about it.

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1 Like; 63 Visitors; 11 Posts

It just takes time. Practice what you can at home.

Cuff on one arm, o2 sat on the on the other hand. Press the button, take the temp and count respirations while everything is going.

When you walk in the room be confident. Hi my name is ..... And I will be your CNA today.

Don't sweat it. With transfering, use equipment availble to you. Gait belts, lifts, sliding pads under the patient. If you need help ask. Never try to do it your self if you cant. You want your PT to be safe and you want to save your back. Lift the bed up to clean or slide/boost people, even to take vitals, make sure to lower the bed and put the alarm on if needed. If able to trendelinberg the PT to boost. Your learn as you go. We all feel that way at first. You can do it!!!!!

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1 Like; 63 Visitors; 11 Posts

Before you start shift, untangle the wires if it's a portable cart, and place them back neatly after cleaning for the next PT. If it's on the wall, just make small talk while you untangle and put it back neat.

Edited by PWA98
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1 Like; 63 Visitors; 11 Posts

Advice: Stop overthinking, just do it like you've been doing it for the last 10 years. You're not going to break the patient.

As for figuring out which vital sign to get first... here's what I do: I put the cuff on (you get faster the more you do it) put a pulse ox on a finger on the opposite hand, start the blood pressure, stick a thermometer in their mouth and don't take it out until I count their breaths. All of it is done at the same time. Machines are great because they can multitask.

I do the same.

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1,562 Visitors; 27 Posts

I have been a CNA for near four years at 3 different hospitals (moved a lot for my spouse) and it was a lot at first! But you will get better with time, I promise.

I put the cuff on them and the pulse ox on opposite side but I wait to get the temp (if it's oral and not infrared/temporal). Why? Because people often reach up for the thermometer probe,knocking off the pulsox or messing up the cuff. I use this time to count their breaths, smile at them, poke something on the machine so I look official... Whatever. :D then when the cuff is done I take the oral temp.

It also helps me to have a good paper chart of my patients. I've done it two ways: rows and columns or fold the paper into 8ths & each pt gets a box:, with room #, pt initials, code status, and then boxes to check off like "AM vital, PM vital, AC, HS, note for am report" so I can keep that in my pocket and whip it out quickly to see who needs sugars, who needs vitals, etc.

Also try to come up with a mnemonic for when you leave a room so you don't forget things. I've heard four Ps:

Position (are they a tq2, is the bed low and locked)

Potty (have they peed, do you need to empty a Foley, do they have water)

Pain (did they ask you to ask the nurse for meds? Did you forget to remove the hot pack under their back?)

Possession (can they reach their call light, their glasses?)

Also I think your experience as a CNA, even if it's short, even if you feel like you are flubbing it, will help you SO MUCH as a nurse. I could definitely tell which new nurses had never been aides before. They would hover in the doorway, hesitate to touch the patient, they would stand there and not know what to do with their hands- you will have already crossed that hurdle!!

And the aides will love you for empathizing with them. I was ready to help any nurse who I heard say "the CNAs work hard!" But one nursing student/aide/extern type we had, working as an aide but with a nurse, was literally heard to say "I'm not here to do aide work."

Um. Well all us CNAs heard about that and nevvvvver helped her. We didn't jeapordize a patient, of course, but we couldnt help but avoid her. And her first weeks alone? She was DROWNING.

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10 Likes; 971 Visitors; 52 Posts

I am a nursing student and CNA. Like you, I am book smart and I once was afraid to assert myself. Yes, being book smart helps, but there is so much more to nursing.

Being a CNA has improved my common sense and ability to plan ahead. I promise you that you continue to build if you are open to constructive feedback and put the time and energy in. It is important to be aware of opportunities for growth, but don't be too hard on yourself. I fumbled around for a while and there were days where I wanted to give up. It took me several months to feel confident in each new setting that I have worked.

I AM SO GRATEFUL for my CNA position now as a senior nursing student. Working in acute care has reinforced material from school and has given me a leg up in clinicals. Although a painful learning process at times, I have learned so much about prioritization, time management, communicating with patients, and teamwork as CNA. I have been exposed to so many different patients and disease processes working on a busy medical unit.

If you land a CNA job (which I HIGHLY recommend to all nursing students, especially acute care jobs) your paid orientation will likely last anywhere from two weeks to a month. You will get to follow experienced CNAs and learn their tips and tricks.

Blood pressure tricks? Well, most cuffs have a line that says artery. you want to line this arrow up on the more medial aspect of the arm (where the brachial artery lies). There are lots of awesome videos on how to take all of the vital signs. I would recommend watching a few. Most cuffs have a line on them. You match this line with the width of the patient's arm. If a patient is lying in bed I like to place a pillow under the arm so it is at heart level. Other VS tips? Take multiple measurements at once. If using an automatic cuff, I like to measure the patient's temperature at the same time. It is efficient and distracts the patient. I like to count respirations at this time as well.

Good luck to you! Sounds like you are off to a great start. I think it is normal to be frustrated and question yourself from time to time. We all start as beginners, not experts. I know you have talents and gifts to bring to the table. Anything worth having does not come easy.

Edited by elephantlover

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