Certified CNA but feel really unprepared

Nursing Students CNA/MA


Hi! So I passed the CNA exam and got certified last summer and as summer approaches I am looking for jobs but am a bit worried that I won't be prepared. I don't want to start a job and be thrown in the deep end so I'm worried that the orientation won't be long enough for me to "learn the ropes". I have tried practicing the skills but don't know the correct way to do all of them (without looking at my notes) and did not get much experience at my clinicals. How can I feel more prepared? Should I study more or look over my notes?

Side note: what should I expect from most nursing homes? The one that I went to for clinicals was severely understaffed, smelled like urine throughout the whole building, and did not answer call lights or obey the proper methods that we learned in the book (ex. fully exposed a person for bed bath when the book said to do it part by part...). I'm hoping they aren't all like that

Most of what you learn in your CNA class probably will be forgotten to the real ways.. Money driven, i.e. CNA class tells you to take 1 hour for the shower, but really you have to do it in 5 minutes b/cuz there are 4 other patients waiting for theirs.

Specializes in Certified Vampire and Part-time Nursing Student.

1) The purpose of CNA certification is to make sure you can use basic reasoning and logic skills because you are working with such vulnerable populations, it will not teach you much of anything. 90% of the skills you need you will learn on the job. Being this is your first job as a CNA, DO NOT work anywhere that isn't willing to offer you at least 1-2 weeks of orientation/shadowing. If they won't do that they're not worth your time and are probably so understaffed working there will be miserable.

2) Nobody does anything "by the books for CNA stuff," all you need to do is do things safely, be mindful of infection control, & patient dignity. After getting some experience you realized what corners you can and can't cut to get your job done faster and move onto the next patient. For example when I got my certificate, for a bedbath the state makes you do all these crazy things and has a specific order of which limbs to wash, which washclothes can and can't touch the soapy water. I am not going to worry about whether I wash their arms or chest first but you n e v e r wash their butt and then their face, or their stinky feet and then their face. Now some people may need the state to tell them that, but most people will realize that with common sense you will be fine. If you try to do everything exactly the way the state wants it you will never get anything done.

And if you have questions about anything, don't be afraid to ask your nurse. It's better to ask dumb questions than to make dumb mistakes ;)

Specializes in Long term care.

EVERY new CNA feels unprepared when they work in a nursing home & the majority of your seasoned coworkers know you will be overwhelmed for a few weeks. Your co-workers are usually supportive.

My best advice is to know you will be overwhelmed until you get a routine and get to know your residents.

There is "what they taught you in CNA class" & then there is the real world. If you do everything by they text book you will NEVER get any care done for all you residents. Every aide knows this. It's unfortunate but a reality. It's highly unlikely, even as someone who has done this for years, that you will change &reposition everyone EVERY 2 hours ,but you don't go around telling anyone that because management just doesn't get it.

There will be residents who have to wait to go to bed or to the toilet.

The reality in a nursing home is that it's extremely busy for a CNA. Choose your priorities. Resident who is known to self transfer first, then resident with family member present, then poopy briefs, then everyone else.

Expect to be overwhelmed for a few weeks. Then you will get use to being overwhelmed!

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