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CNA Clothing/Advice


Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

I am starting CNA class Monday :) I just had an interview at the medical center/nursing home where I am taking the class, today. I have read through many articles on this site but would like some individualized input.

I have a few questions:

1) This is going to be my first experience in a medical setting/nursing home, I have never done anything like this. Are there certain things I should be aware of?

2) What is the best website to get scrubs from? What is the best brand of scrubs and what are the best shoes?

3) I will probably figure this out in class, but I'm anxious. Will I be able to use a stethoscope?

4) Is there a best time to work as a CNA? What shift would you recommend?

5) If you're a CNA, what do you enjoy/like most about the position?

Thank you in advance, I'm so excited!!!


Specializes in Behavioral Health.

Hi mindofmidwifery!

I work first shift mostly, and I enjoy it because it goes by super fast and I'm done with work by 2. I started out as a new CNA at this time and managed it, but honestly second shift is easiest for new CNAs. You only have one meal and getting residents ready for bed is much easier than getting them up for the day. The few times I've worked second shift it was pretty chill, and my coworkers all agree that first shift is the craziest. Do you know what your resident ratio is going to be?

Your best bet for scrubs is probably Goodwill. For the most part you can get some pretty nice scrubs for $5. As far as shoes, I wear old running shoes . Just make sure they're non-slip and comfortable. I like to switch up my shoelaces in neon because my uniform is always the same and it gets boring.

Whether you learn a stethoscope depends on what state you live in, I believe. Blood pressure isn't on the skills test in Florida, so I never learned to use one.

My favorite part of this job is the real potential to make a difference. I've had so many residents thank me for treating them with dignity because it was the first time in a long time they'd been treated with dignity. Since I'm going for my BSN, i also love being able to see procedures and learn. At a nursing home you don't get to see much, but there's always the potential for watching feeding tube administration or the occasional IV.

Good luck! You'll be a pro in no time. :)


Specializes in None yet..

I would get by with the minimum required to prepare for the class. If you can get your scrubs from Goodwill or used from another student, that's excellent. It would be amazing if the scrubs you're required to have as a student match up what you're required to wear at your first job. Get as many pockets as possible because you will need pockets when you're on the run.

My first job requires us NOT to wear scrubs. The idea is that it feels more homey if the staff isn't wearing scrubs. We get sent home if we show up in even scrub pants. I made some African saroulles from a Folkwear pattern in a cotton print. Drawstring waist, leg gusset that makes squatting easy and give plenty of room in the upper leg.

Same reasoning for the stethoscope as for the scrubs. Get the minimum needed to get through your course, preferably used from a graduate of your program. (Washington has BP measurement with a stethoscope as one of the required skills. I was surprised to hear that some states don't require this. You can learn from a YouTube video of your course doesn't teach this and I'd say it's worth knowing or you'll be in a small pidgeon hole of skill sets.) You can get a more expensive 'scope when you know where you're going and what you're doing. My LTC center uses only automatic vitals for everything but respirations. Everything else is a readout from a vitals-on-wheels machine. You choose the BP cuff size, set it up, attach the oximeter, pop on a sheath to a thermometer and viola! Readout of BP, pulse, O2 and temp. Count the respirations while those are running. Easy peasy.

Again, your school will tell you what you need for shoes. The white shoes I had to get for school I never wore again. In my first job, almost everyone wears running/walking shoes. A few nurses wear Danskos.

Only thing worth investing in as a student, IMO, is a good carabiner pen. I have not found any other pen that I can't lose. Get several styles of small notebook, use them all 'til you find one that works for you. When you get your first job you will need to make notes. Things happen too fast to keep everything in your head.

I agree that evening shift is probably the best start for a first CNA job... although it is still NOT easy. Day shift does more but at my facility there are three day shift CNAs per unit and only two per unit for evenings. It doesn't take many extra brief and bed changes or switch ups in bedtimes for things to go to h*ll in a handbasket. If you can avoid starting in float, do so. I started in float and you need to learn everything all over each day you're switched somewhere else. It is MUCH easier to start with the same residents and staff so you can learn all their preferences, styles and unwritten rules.

The best thing about being a CNA for me is that moment when I know I'vemade a human connection and a difference in another person's life. That is probably outweighed by the times I suffer physical and mental torments, not just from residents/patients but from other staff. I can't count on that to get me through the day. Instead, I get rewards from growing in my competence, both physical and emotional skills. Focus on the good and the positive because there will be much standing along your path, screaming and tugging at you to fall off into the muck.

Good luck and have fun with it!

mindofmidwifery, ADN

Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

Thank you both so much for the responses, I feel more confident already :) And getting a carabiner pen sounds like a very good idea. I am starting classes today!!! So hopefully I hear back from the nursing director about starting work at the nursing home. I'm going to look into working second shift, but I wish I had asked the CNA:resident ratio because I feel like that will make a difference.

Walmart sells some nice yet inexpensive scrubs. As far as shoes, make they are sturdy, non-slip, and are comfortable.

Without knowing specifically what kind of facility you'll be working/training, the best I can tell you is be prepared for anything. Evening shift routine is easier than day shift BUT patients in a nursing home are very likely to sundown and that can set you behind dramatically. Many places staff 2nd shift shorter than 1st so you often end up dealing with sundowning patients and code browns on your own. Hospitals are definitely a mixed bag.

It is worth it and almost a necessity to learn how to use a stethoscope. I worked in a facility that had electronic vitals machines but older people can have such weak pulses that the machine may not be able to pick it up or if it does, it may be completely inaccurate. Accurate BPs are critical if a nurse needs to hold a BP med due to low BP. It takes practice, but I can get a manual BP faster than a machine can get it.

What I love about my job is the physical act of patient care. I enjoy taking direct care of them from preparing a toothbrush, rolling them, and in the end having them thank me for taking care of them.