CNA: From Classroom to Clinical


Hello all! How are you?!

So I recently just joined and am currently a nursing major finishing up my LAST semester of pre-reqs (thank goodness) and decided that I should have some experience before I begin actual nursing school so I enrolled in a CNA program in my state.

I just finished my final clinical and will be testing soon but I just wanted to provide some insight for anyone who is curious. Yes, I'm sure someone else has posted something like this but all of us experience it differently. So here we go...

My course was 1 month long. My state requires that you attend 16 hours of clinical (two 8 hour days) experience on top of 72 classroom hours and 100% attendance was required otherwise it would be $30 for every hour you missed. We had 25 skills to complete by the end of the course (not including clinical) along with I believe 10-20 skills that our instructor(s) felt we should know to make our jobs slightly easier. We had 3 tests (the last one being our final). For my class you needed to pass with a 70% overall. If not - you would have to retake the entire program next month.

Before we were 'checked off' on a skill it was demonstrated to the class and we had enough time to practice and we made sure to recite the steps verbally paying extra attention to the automatic failures.

(Automatic Failures: Usually bolded on our skills check off sheet. These are the steps that if not preformed during the state test will fail you immediately. You will have to take the test again at another time)

The first day was paperwork and a whole lot of chatting about what we should be prepared for on the job and getting to know one another as well as getting to know our instructor(s).

The first week we learned a lot of the basics about hand-washing, proper procedures for certain types of isolation codes, a lot of abbreviations, and the role we play in the world of health care.

The weeks following we just hit those skills like our lives depended on it. :roflmao: Everything from vital signs to bedpans to making a bed properly. It went by so fast - but it didn't feel rushed it flowed very naturally.

As far as testing - the questions weren't difficult but you do have to be sure you are thinking critically because although one answer may seem correct there probably is an answer that is just slightly better. Be careful of the wording but don't freak yourself out.




For clinical we were required to wear all white scrubs with any sneaker of our choosing as long as they weren't falling apart and were relatively clean. We were also required to wear a white watch (which I found cumbersome immediately and slipped it in my front pocket of my scrub top).

Upon arriving (at 6:00am or 0600) we meet with our instructor for the time being and received a tour of the facility, our patient assignment(s), and our partner. We were given a small pocket-sized piece of paper that had some areas where we could write down things about our patients such as vitals or anything we felt was super important, like i/o (input-output).

We began our day by introducing ourselves to the other assistants (or lack thereof) who let us in on the fact that they were so happy we all 8 of us came because they only had 2 people to cover 10 halls of about 10 people each. Yeah I know - crazy.

Once all of the introductions were finished we got our patients up, took them to the restroom, dressed/showered & dressed, did their hair, and made their way down to breakfast where we took vitals while they were waiting for their trays.

Once the trays arrived we checked their dietary plan (a small card placed on their tray which tells you about what they like/dislike, and any special info that someone would need to know - such as allergies)

After breakfast we cleaned them up, took anyone that had to go to the restroom, and sat with our patients for a while and chatted with them. Which was super funny and eased our worries about the day a lot.

We then went to some activities, answered some call lights, and then lunch was ready - it went super fast. My class then took our lunch break as well and chatted about how the day was going thus far.

After our lunch break was finished our patients were also finished eating so we made sure they went to the restroom again (heck I even took a class mate the restroom too :roflmao:)

We chatted with our patients some more - a few of our classmates decided that it felt like a 'girls-night out' type of day and took to the 'streets' and gave out nail care and massages which was really nice. It felt great to hear that some of the patients really appreciated what we did for them. It touched our hearts a lot.

It was very slow after lunch as most of our patients requested to go back to their rooms for some television time with or without their roommates LOL. So a lot of us went to the other wings of the facility to answer some call lights there or do any vital checks or to even help the nurses with some of the special things they were doing.

My class then took our final break about 1:30 pm and then we only had an hour left before it was time to have our conference before leaving. So we spent that time charting, making sure our patients were well taken care of, gave out some fresh ice-water, repositioned any one who needed it, and made sure to say thank you to the staff for having us around with all of our questions.




The good: The patients. It felt so good to hear that they were happy we came and did the things that we did. A few of them tried to get us to stay at the facility. We heard so many amazing stories, and shared so many laughs. You really do get to know these individuals in just two days. It was actually very difficult to leave.

The good: The experience. The experience in itself was great because it can feel overwhelming to know that YOU have to take care of someone but this clinical let us all know that it was possible. A lot of us split up roughly about an hour or two into the day and realized we could do it all by ourselves which was a huge confidence booster.

The good: Teamwork. It was awesome to be apart of the health care team. Seeing how you can make a big change for someone with just a tiny observation or question about what they might need.

The good: As a nursing major - I was given a chance to change a colostomy bag! The coolest thing I have ever seen - thus far. I'm glad I got the chance to do that.

The bad: The facility lacked a lot of resources. There were lifts that were broken. Glove boxes empty. Linens that were NO where to be found. Broken wheelchairs. Blood pressure cuffs that didn't work (even the manual ones :eek:) but there were patients who constantly needed to be checked. I myself felt it was a tad bit of a disaster waiting to happen. There weren't any clean linens when we needed them (of course) lol. Also the lack of hand sanitizer or even soap was shocking.

The bad: Communication. We weren't given report - AT ALL. So we had to ask a gazillion questions which became a tad bit annoying to the assistants which I can understand because they have things to do to as well but we managed. LOL They survived.

The bad: Staff wasn't always the kindest to the patients. Which was sad to see. Even had patients complain of their treatment. Things weren't always done/handled the way I thought they would have been. This isn't even a matter of shortcuts but about the quality of life given to some of these people. It was just sad to see so I made sure to console and just continue to provide the best care I could.

The bad: It was only two days. I will really miss all of the patients, as well as my classmates. The bonds made will be unforgettable and most of the staff was really kind. I will really miss my instructor and the laughs.

For anyone considering going to get their CNA. I would simply say be sure you CARE about people. I mean really care. Its not always glitter and rainbows but a great attitude can make it seem like it is.

Have a heart. Treat others the way you'd want to be treated. Know that although it may not seem like it at times - YOU ARE MAKING A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONES LIFE. You'll go home with an achy body and frustrations but you'll keep laughing at the jokes that were cracked and stories shared.

I definitely think that becoming a nursing assistant should be required for anyone who is thinking about working as an RN later on in life. It gives you a new perspective on what its like to go above and beyond for those in your care.

Have a great night/day everyone.

Sidenote: Typos are DEFINITELY EVERYWHERE. Deal with it. I'm going to nap. LOL



Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

2 aides for 100 residents???


1,761 Posts

Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 8 years experience.

Mindingmidwifery is spot on, what kind of jacked up facility only has 2 CNAs to 100 residents. Even in states that don't have ratio limits that is just completely unsafe and it would literally be impossibly for 2 CNAs to care for ALL of them. How the heck are they still open and and why does the state allow clinical in such a crao facility. Your description alone sends up major state survey red flags. And that's from the inexperienced view of a student. I can only imagine that facility is even worse than you describe. Run far away and never look back at that place.

2:100! Yikes!!

Well, based upon what you've said, welcome to the world of geriatric care. Many places are like this; many are not. You've seen the horrible so hopefully you see the good. I left LTC, took a big pay cut, and saved my mental health by taking a hospital job. It isn't always easy, but it is more professional and my effort and contributions are appreciated.


3 Posts

It sounds a lot worse than it is. Half was assisted living so their call lights were rarely if ever pushed. The other half was skilled nursing. I should have clarified í ½í¸‚


3 Posts

It sounds a lot worse than it is. Half was assisted living so their call lights were rarely if ever pushed. The other half was skilled nursing. I should have clarified í ½í¸‚

Our class even wondered how they were open with all the stuff they had messed up in there.


1,761 Posts

Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 8 years experience.

That's still a lot. The skilled should have at least 2 for the 50. 4 is more reasonable, but I have seen crappy places with 1 aid for like 25-30 residents. The residents get crap care because the CNA is running around the entire time doing the best they can. 1 to 50 for assisted living isn't bad because those residents don't need as much care.