Feeling very discouraged right now. Advice please?

Students CNA/MA


Hello! This is my first time posting...but I need some place to vent to other people involved in nursing and could use some advice right now.

So I'm training to be a nurse aide right now. It's a 3 week course and I'm in my 3rd week which is the week we do clinicals and go to a nursing home and practice our skills on real people. I finish the course on Friday. Today will be the last day of our clinicals.

My class consist of 9 people including me. Most of them have some experience already with the medical field and such. One's in occupational therapy, another is close to graduating as a medical assistant, one of them works in a home for MRDD, or some of them come from a family of nurses.

Now some info on me---I'm a nursing major, but to be very technical I'm in prenursing. I just finished my freshman year of college and will be moving on to my sophomore year. At my school, your first two years of college are just your general electives, then you can move onto nursing school in the junior/senior year. So I haven't really been taught anything pertaining to nursing or medicine yet. No one in my family is involved in nursing or medicine or anything like that. So compared to all my classmates, I feel very inexperienced and incompetent at times.

So here comes the venting/ranting---

So far I feel so very very inexperienced and incompetent compared to everyone. I just feel that everyone is more nurturing, or knowledgeable, or skilled, or have better communication skills with the residents. At clinicals so far, I've done some things ok and some things not ok.


My first time feeding a resident, I tipped the milk cup a little too far and milk spilled on the resident. I felt so horrible about it. Other than that the feeding went fine.

After dinner my instructor brings us to a resident and tells my classmate and I to go transfer a resident to the bathroom and then she leaves to go with another pair of students. Afterwards we had trouble with putting on a new brief. I've never ever had to change even a baby's diaper before, and it probably should have been common sense even though we never learned how to do it in class. And then my classmate went to get help from the instructor, and then the instructor comes back and yells at us because we were not suppose to transfer without her there. I was unaware of this. I just felt like such a failure at that moment.

The next day at clinicals we do dinner, which went well so yay for me. Then I get paired with two other girls to do a shower. It was my first time ever showering someone else and we were only taught that part in theory in class, so I was very very nervous and didn't want to mess up. And thankfully I didn't but I felt like I still had to get a lot of help from one of the other girls who did have lots of experience showering.

Later on that night I and two other girls go to assist a nurse aide with pericare. And this is the part where I feel so very very naive and stupid. I learned the hard way to not be so trusting in people.

The nurse aide asks if we want to practice transferring from wheelchair to bed, to which I replied that we had to have the instructor there for it. But then my classmate said that it was also ok if the nurse aide was there. And then my classmate goes to transfer but since I was closer she said I could do it. And I was too trusting of her word that it was alright as long as the nurse aide is there, because silly me went to go help transfer but I wasn't able to do it because the resident would not pivot to get into bed so I had to set him back down in his wheelchair. So I'm feeling really awful right now because I failed at a task.

I was at least able to do pericare, but afterwards they go to tell the two instructors what happened and I got yelled at big time in front of all the other students. They threatened to kick me out of the program even if there was only two days left, and that the next day for clinicals (which would be today, thurs), one of the two instructors is gonna have to be with me the entire time.

So as of right now, I'm feeling loads and loads of awful and no confidence at all. I'm basically gonna have to be babysat today at clinicals, which does nothing for my self esteem and makes me feel even more incompetent. I'm feeling a little betrayed or something because it was almost the other girl who would have been yelled at. I'm feeling soooo very stupid for putting my trust in someone like that. I feel way too naive at the moment. I don't have a whole bunch of experience like the other girls in my class, and that just makes me feel so much worse.

I nearly cried when my instructors said they might have to kick me out. I am so close to finishing this course. This is what I really really want. It's like my dreams were crushed in that instant. I really want to become a nurse. I love helping people and seeing them get better. It's just part of my nature to help people. Nursing has everything I want in a career. It's so varied, helping people get better is awesome, knowing that you helped to make a person's day that much better is such a satisfying feeling to me, and I love learning about the human body. But right now I just don't know how to get better. I want to become a great nurse, but if I can't even do the job of a nurse aide how the heck can I become a nurse?

I'm feeling very shaken and discouraged right now. I was wondering if any of you had any advice for me? Have any of you ever been where I am at right now? Is there even any hope for me? Giving up is not what I do. I want to conquer this and get better, but right now I really have no clue as to how. I guess you could say I'm all kinds of lost right now.

Help? Pretty please?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I apologize that it's kinda long. I hope you all have a nice day.


416 Posts

its your program and your instructors, not you. If they kick you out, go find a better program. Leaving students, yelling at students, these are not professional. Hang in there and whether they kick you out or not, report them to better business.

Hello, please don't be discouraged. Not everyone can do everything they are taught to do immediately. You are really going to learn more when you are working as a cna. Remember this is only a 3 week course, you are not going to be super cna in 3 weeks. I am a newly certified cna and it took me a good month to get my own routine down. Just because your pt did not pivot does not mean you are a failure. Did the cna in the room with you tell you the resident could pivot or even bear weight on their legs? That is so minor, if you don't know the resident, its hard to know all of what they can or cannot do. As far as the feeding goes, I have seen nurses giving water with meds that run down pt.'s faces and I have done that myself with pt. feedings, that is why they wear clothing protectors. No one is perfect and I am sure the residents are not going to report you for a little spilled milk on their mouth. And don't worry about those anal instructors, I am sure they have a few skeletons in the closet. You are going to be just fine, cheer up and keep studying for your RN:nurse:. Good luck.

Girl Scout

165 Posts

Jeeze... my CNA course is 5 weeks and I feel like we've been rushed through and had our heads so crammed full of info that I leave class dizzy. I can't even imagine doing it in 3 weeks.

I am lucky that my instructor (who has a part-time assistant instructor who is in class about half the time) is a godsend. Both of them are, really, and they both have a very good sense of humor, which puts us at ease, which helps us learn and enjoy the class and take in the material a little easier. Or, at least, it helps me.

Just out of curiosity... are you taking your CNA through a technical institute, or a community college, or a hospital, or... ? I'm not sure if this is an "across the board" thing, because I'm sure there have been a lot of good experiences out of tech institutes, but seems like most of what I read and hear locally is that tech institutes are kind of iffy. On some classes, they can be hit or miss. On others, they are above standard. But the hit and miss seems to be more often than not around here, at least.

Anyway, the last thing I want to say is this: You paid your instructors to teach you. If half your class fails, their teaching positions are in jeopardy because obviously something's not working. My guess is it's a little of both: the extremely short class time and the poor instructing.

Sorry I don't have any better advice, save for you might consider going to the advisor for the department and telling them you'd like to talk about what you're experiencing and see if they have any advice for you. Just tell them how you feel and how important this is to you and that you have no idea what you can or should do.


80 Posts

Specializes in assisted living & memory care.

oh! you are doing just fine!!! i was in the same boat you were in, when i took my class i had no experience..nadda! lol i think back when doing my clinicals and i just lauph at myself. i was doing things that were so complicated, brushing teeth, peri-care, transfering,feedings and i thought i was a hot mess, 3 girls in a room figuring out how we should have someone brush their teeth haha oh my.

i know where you are coming from, many of these things you get from expierence, nerves get you every time. hun i still spill things on people when feeding. accidents happen, and you will learn this and what accidents matter.i dont get why your instructor would tell you guys to transfer someone, then turn around and yell at you, that is redicules and i wouldnt take it to heart.

i can remember the first time i had my own wing. i was nearly in tears, i felt like i couldnt get anything done, and no one was working with me! my first shower too, we didnt do that in clinicals so when i had to give one..it was all on me. guess what? we did just fine! you will find out the tricks of the trade. in the mean time, quit being so hard on yourself! serously! the things you are worried about, are things that come with time.and it comes quit quickly, it will be like second nature. when you are on your own, you will run into different things that you have to handle like falls, enjuries, moans and groans and daily life.

next time you feel insecure, just say to yourself, this is not a big deal i can handle this. you will find the more confidence and experence you have, the one thing that was so scary is now a piece of cake! just keep your cool and dont worry so much!

and the other classmate that told you to transfer someone, doesnt sound to expiernced herself. we all start from somewhere. you will also get more comfortable with talking with the residents etc and the fact that the instructor threatened to kick you out, is down right stupid! hang in there!!!

this is really just the first step.you will get it real quick and you will be ready for the next challange.

you want to be a nurse? well you do just that. best wishes ~lissa


447 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimers and geriatric patients.

Honey, in 6 years of being a CNA I have spilled liquids on myself, the residents, the hallway carpet, a visitors dog this one time (embarrassing!!)... It happens. Being a CNA is tough at first but It will get better. You need to give yourself time to adjust to your new job. I have said a million times that i was the slowest, clutziest nurse aide for about 2 months after I got on the floor, but eventually I got my routine down. And you will to!

I think it was very unproffessional for the nurse aide to allow you to transfer someone who couldn't pivot, without offering to help you. I will say that sometimes the experienced nurse aides work with a resisdent enough that they can transfer them without help but you didn't know this resident and she knew that, and she should have know to at least spot you in case you needed help.

Hang in there. I'm sure you will be a good nurse aide as you seem to have a passion for nursing! Good Luck to you!

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

1,816 Posts

Specializes in LTC.

So your classmate was with you and SHE was the one who told you it was ok to transfer w/o the instructor as long as you were under CNA supervision, and only YOU got in trouble?

I don't know who tattled on you and why, considering that nothing bad happened, and I don't know why people are blaming the CNA for letting you transfer. It wasn't up to her to know the rules, it was up to the students. She should know what she's allowed to do according to the rules of her workplace and you should have known what you're allowed to do according to the rules of your school.


447 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimers and geriatric patients.

If i read the OP right it says that the CNA and the other student turned her in. I think it was wrong of the CNA to ask her to do the transfer and then go turn her in for it. Secondly, if CNA's are allowed to be preceptors for the students than yes, they should know the basic rules of what the student can do, when, and with whom present. I say preceptor because if this CNA was working with 2 students she was acting in the capacity of a preceptor and should have taken some of the responsibility for encouraging the transfer. Yes, the OP should have checked to see if it was Okay. But if that had happened where I work I'd have been in more trouble than the student, because as a CNA who often works with students I am held to the standard that I should know the scope of what they can do and what supervision they need, and if I don't know or don't want the responsability I should tell my supervisor so that I won't have to work with students. (we have the choice at my facility) I'm glad the OP didn't get in major trouble and I suggest that she review the policies manual, but the CNA should be counseled so this doesn't happen again, possibly with a bad outcome(resident injury).


2 Posts

Thank you everyone for all your wonderful replies :) They have certainly helped to encourage me and boost my confidence again. I feel loads and loads better now.

So you know, my last day of clinicals went very well. I fed a centenarian! Which I thought was pretty cool. And I was able to do a bed bath with success along with changing the occupied bed.

All in all, my last day at clinicals was a complete turnaround from my 2nd day. And I just want to thank you guys again for your encouraging and kind words because it really did help to assure me through out the time I was doing clinicals.

I suppose it's true that your biggest critic is yourself! I guess all my nerves had made me extra critical of myself.

Now to answer some replies and questions...


Thank you :) I am hanging in there. Today is the very last day of the class, thank goodness!


Yes, the cna did tell me that the resident could bear weight on their legs. And thank you for putting things into perspective for me! I suppose I was worrying about being a super cna in 3 weeks, when it obviously takes a much longer time than that. But I'll get there some day! And I'll do my best at studying to be an RN. :)

Girl Scout---

I guess you could classify the program I'm in as being part of a technical institute. It was the closest place to where I live to take a cna course. Knowing what I know now from the replies here, I would say that it's not the best program around and could probably use a bit more professionalism.


Thank you sooo so much. I will definitely remember to think that 'it's not a big deal and I can handle it.' Very helpful advice :) And thank you for sharing your story. It made me feel better because it reminded me that yes, we all do have to start somewhere! I guess my nerves got to me and I forgot about that. Oops! My bad, but once again, thank you!


Yay! It's very encouraging to hear that everyone starts out a little shaky, but they get better with time. Which helps to make me feel a lot more confident because it assures me that I will also get better with some time. So thank you for sharing your story with me :) Also, just to clear some things up, it wasn't the cna who said something to my instructors, it was my classmate. I did feel that the entire time I was at clinical the nurse aides and such were surprised at when we came and didn't really know what we were allowed to do. So maybe there's some miscommunication going on somewhere between my instructors and the facility we go to that is an issue that should probably be fixed.


Well, the classmate told the instructor that I transferred a patient, but she didn't say that she was saying it was ok as long as the cna is there. I did apologize to my instructors the next day and told them what happened, so we'll see what happens. And I learned a very very good lesson about trust and listening to people who are not my instructor. I'm still new to this, and I unfortunately do make mistakes, but I'm doing my best to learn from them. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm learning some of them now instead of later on in life.


212 Posts

Hey there, I hope everything went well for you today. It's tough at first but you will get some experience under your belt and it will get better. You're not the first CNA to make mistakes. I've made some real doozies! It just comes with the territory. You learn from them and move on. You will be a great CNA because you show you have the empathy and compassion that it takes to care for these wonderful people. Hang in there sweetie! You're going to go far!:kiss


220 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

Hi ojuice7620! Please don't be so hard on yourself, you are learning. :heartbeat Being a CNA is hard work, but you'll get the hang of it. Becoming a nurse is a long road full of life lessons. I'm a "hopeful to get in a program someday" nursing student and a CNA and I have come leaps and bounds from the begining. I learn something new on every shift as a CNA that will also be part of my practice as a nurse someday. You are going to grow in so many ways and can definitely still be a nurse. Don't let this discourage you.

When you put your resident back in their wheelchair because the transfer was not safe, you did not fail, you made a good decision. :yeah:Now you know not to let other students talk you into something that you know is not right. That's a good thing, you won't do that again. Just because someone has more experience does not necessarily mean that they will make better decisions than you. Trust your gut. Please don't cry over the spilt milk :wink2: really spills are pretty common during meal times... no big deal!! As long as you do your best and are caring for your patients you'll be a great asset. Tasks like showering, transfering, changing all get easier the more you do them. It's ok to ask for help when you need it too. Some staff will look at me like I have two heads if I think someone might actually need a two assist instead of one, but I don't care. I've learned that safety is more important than someone else's laziness. They'll get over it and patient's conditions do change so it's good to be in tune to it.

Lastly, your instructors should never yell at you... that is just craziness! I did not check the date of you post, but hopefully you're already done with you class if not soon and you can move on. Shake it off baby! :p Good luck to you as a CNA and future nurse!!! :redbeathe

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