What is it like to be a CNA?

  1. Hi,

    I have recently acquired an interest in working in the healthcare field. I've been in business my entire life, but do not find it rewarding, and I don't feel as though I accomplish anything.

    I've been doing a lot of research about nursing and CNA's, but have not been able to find some real testimonials. If someone could please let me know what most CNA's do I would appreciate it, besides just the general job description of, "assists nurses and patients".

    Also, if there is anyone out there who has possibly worked in business and switched careers to medical, please let me know your feelings.

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    About fulfillment

    Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 3


  3. by   ArizonaMark
    Diaper change, you are the first called. Urine catheter bag full, empty it. Grandma gotta go pee again, you will likely help her to the bathroom. Mr. Jones in room 7 looks really pale and appears in distress, you will likely be the first one to notice. If you are good, you'll pick up the change and notify your nurse ASAP.
    It ain't business by a long shot. It is perhaps the most vital, yet under-appreciated position in the hospital or long-term care setting.
  4. by   jRN2be
    arizonamark, easy killer. It aint as bad as some say. CNAs are also referred to as Certified A!@ wipers. But also, it is very nice to help people, and you dont have to work in a nursing home. That is not to say that you will never have to do peri care, but it is alot less. CNAs are also responsible for basic nursing skills such as vital signs. They get the patients drinks, and report change in condition to the RN/LVN-LPN. Some hospitals will even train CNAs to be ER techs training them in phlebotomy, vital signs, EKG techs, and ward clerk. It is not all bad, and every once in a while you will get that special thank you that makes it all worth while. I have been a CNA since I was 16, got it in high school through a special program, and am now fixing to start pre reqs for RN, all paid for by my facility that I work at....
    just look around, if you really want to do it you find the right opportunity for you!
  5. by   oslogirl
    Hi. I worked as a tech, which is for the most part, an aide through nsg school. I worked in a hospital. I think the experience is very valuable and will help you through nsg school and beyond. I always kept my eyes and ears open and asked alot of questions. It is hard work. It is dirty work. It is often unappreciated work, and sadly, you will be looked down on and ordered about by some. On the other hand, you will be respected and helped by others. I think you need a strong internal locus of control for this work b/c it is pretty thankless overall. Just always remember you are there for the patients. Stay focused on your goal of becoming an RN. Work hard. Learn as much as you can. I suggest you do it through nsg school. I think you will be glad you did. Best of luck to you!!

    Oslogirl, RN
  6. by   oslogirl
    Oh, and following is a list of duties typically assigned to an aide in a hospital setting:

    Bedpans, changing adult diapers, emptying urinals and bed side bags, emptying colostomy bags,helping pts to the bathroom or bedside commode, inserting and discontinuing Foley catheters, monitoring intake and output, collecting various specimens, removing intravenous catheters, turinng and repositioning patients, fetching snacks, water, blankets, etc, fetching blood products, etc. for nsg staff, checking capillary blood glucose levels, providing emotional support, helping with admissions and discharges, assisting with trays and meals, dressing changes, vital signs, telling the pt. for the 15th time, no I am not your nurse, lol, after introducing myself umpteen times, reporting values to nurse, reporting changes in pt. condition to nurse, changing beds while occupied and not, and lots of other stuff!

    Oslogirl, RN
  7. by   stillwant2banurse
    Quote from fulfillment

    I have recently acquired an interest in working in the healthcare field. I've been in business my entire life, but do not find it rewarding, and I don't feel as though I accomplish anything.

    I've been doing a lot of research about nursing and CNA's, but have not been able to find some real testimonials. If someone could please let me know what most CNA's do I would appreciate it, besides just the general job description of, "assists nurses and patients".

    Also, if there is anyone out there who has possibly worked in business and switched careers to medical, please let me know your feelings.


    I dont know how old you are but that to me makes a difference as well, I am currently a cna/nursing student from being in the business world for years, and my take of if is this. The work duties are alot like the op have stated you get the grunt work of things. But I also am learning it is more than just that, nursing comes with a whole new world of different coworkers, there can sometime be alot of gossip and backbitting to kind of learn your way through. You need to have a tough skin in nursing and that was always an issue for me, in that I am not very confrontational, but I have other friends who are nurses, and they displayed this side of things to me going in, so I had to really ask myself how bad do you want to be a nurse, and keep pushing myself past that outer shell.

    You also need to be able to see and experience and work with allot of ickee, things, BM, vomit, urine, ect.... for me, I will say that at first I thought I could never deal with that, but now, I notice that when I am doing my job my heart is in it, and these things do not get to me.

    Try to make sure you get that timeout for you, rest is important, you time is even more important, to be successful these things will become more important than before. See in business you or I just put in 12 hours in the office and I could be able to go home freshen up and have my time. With nursing it is different this is physical labor that you are using your body strenghth to make happen, and on the job, others may try and push these things on you while allowing you to sought of out do yourself, do let it happen.

    Is it rewarding, yes nursing is very rewarding as long as you are in it for the right reasons, I also say read more books about how to survive your first year as a nurse, they are great.

    And most importantly of all you are starting a new career realize that CNA is just the stepping stone, to you becoming that nurse you are, move forward, and stay focus, and most importantly of all much much much sucess.
  8. by   xnmexicanx
    I started my nursing career as a CNA, right out of high school at age 18. I worked at a long-term care facility for 2 1/2 years. It is a difficult job (as said earlier, you will be the one to clean up bodily exceretions), but it is very rewarding, especially if you are able to work in long-term care and get to know all of your residents.

    I also recently graduated from nursing school (ADN program), and I can tell you that being a nurse's aide definitely helped my during my clinicals. I also believe that it will continue to help me, through my career as a new nurse. I am no longer afraid of poop, pee or anything else that may come my way in that regard. I have learned how to work fast and efficiently to get the work done that needs to be done (I had 14 residents with one other CNA, and almost all of these people were non-ambulatory). I have learned how to better interact with people who have dementia (they are in nursing homes and hospitals, too), and how to bettter handle stress at work. I believe its a very good way to get a taste of some of the things you will encounter as a nurse.

    Good luck in your future nursing career!
  9. by   tishirajan
    I started out doing CNA work long before you had to be certified, then got my certification when it became mandated in Texas. Geeze, I feel so old!

    It's hard work. You're on your feet a great deal of the time. It's a job that will give you some much needed experience during your nursing career. It requires lots of compassion and empathy.

    It's always been a rewarding career for me and I'm thankful for my experience as a CNA. It will surely help me during nursing school. There's nothing that compares to when a pt tells you how much they love and appreciate you, even for doing something so trivial as getting them a drink of water.

    I loved working on the Alzheimer's unit. These sweet people will try your patience but with that comes lots of hugs and smiles. Even when you're elbow deep in poo it's rewarding just knowing you're making this person's last days the best they can possibly be.

    It can be frustrating when the nurse/pt ratio is way out of wack. Sometimes the admins can get on your last nerves. You have to remember that you are there for the pts. You are the one that will notice the slightest changes that may occur in these people. They can be very demanding at times but I always remember that these people were once young, vibrant and full of life. They have or had family that loved them dearly. I always treated my pts like I would want my parents or grandparents treated. They deserve that respect. Some of them are vets and I feel honored to have to opportunity to have cared for them.

    You can learn a great deal of things from these people. I once cared for a WW2 nurse. She was amazing to talk to. She had been at Pearl Harbor. I cared for a woman who was an aide to John F. Kennedy. I've cared for a man who was in France on D-day. The list goes on and on. These people have so much to offer in terms of wisdom and advice.

    I'm going on to get my ADN. Nursing is a passion for me since I was 10 years old. My older brother broke his neck in a diving accident and I wanted to take care of him. Thankfully, he was not paralyzed. He did require someone to feed him and that was my job I took very seriously. We bonded during that time and I knew then that nursing was what I was called to do.

    Best of luck to you in your nursing endeavors! :wink2:
  10. by   Auntiegrade_Amnesia
    Dear Fulfillment,
    Speaking strictly from the long term care perspective, the CNAs I have worked with over the years usually fall into one of two categories: the conscientious and the barely conscious. Those who take a sincere interest in the well being of their residents are absolutely essential in long term care. The residents, and the nurses depend on and appreciate them more than words can describe. They may be underpaid and sometimes overworked, but the residents could not make it without them. Good luck and take care.
  11. by   3dogs1cat
    I actually enjoyed being a CNA while in nursing school. The most awesome thing in the world was to be praised by nurses and really feel like your work helped the patient and the staff.

    I have not had as much praise as a RN but the encouragement I recieved from the nurses I worked with made it worth it.

    You can at least take the class and see if it something you would enjoy.

    Good Luck.
  12. by   fulfillment
    Thank you so much to everyone that replied.

    I will admit my only fear has to do with my ability to stomach body excrement.

    Thanks again!!!
  13. by   nkara
    You have to be very strong to do the job. You will deal with things from blood and feces to death and violence. I've worked in LTC and now I work at a hospital in pediatrics. I love my job... even the messy parts of it. If you couldn't do something for yourself wouldn't you want a compassionate person helping you? It's that simple. It's embarrasing for someone to mess themselves or not be able to get up to go to the bathroom by themselves.... basic day to day task's that we take for granted. I'm not starting my pre-reqs to get my RN license and I definitely know what I will NOT do as a nurse. My first priority is to be compassionate for all patients no matter what is going on with them.
  14. by   fuzzywuzzy
    I work in LTC, so there's a routine, but you still have to be fast. Everyone has a care plan that needs to be followed. There's a lot of toileting- walking people to the bathroom, checking for incontinence, changing briefs and pads, emptying urinals and foley bags and and commodes and putting people on bedpans. You'll be thinking about poop all the time too because a lot of the residents are obsessed with their bowels, and people are getting milk of magnesia all the time. There's a lot of paperwork but not half of what the nurses get. Where I work on some floors you can barely keep up with the call bells and on others you can barely keep up with your work at all.

    You deal with all kinds of people. You need a lot of patience, and you learn to stay calm, flexible, and know how to talk demented people into letting you provide care. There are demanding, snotty rehab patients; sweet confused little old ladies with potty mouths (with demanding, snotty families); alert residents who press the call bell every 10 minutes and nothing you do for them is ever right; confused people who are absolutely convinced they're somewhere else/going home/whatever; residents who kick, punch, scream and bite when you try to do anything but let them lay in their own excrement for hours; people who fight with their roommates all the time; residents who are always stealing stuff out of people's rooms or trying to escape, or standing up all the time when they're supposed to have assistance; residents who always have chocolates to share with you, who give you nicknames and big smiles and tell you they love you; ones who are so laid back and nice that they don't ask for anything; ones who are depressed and finally confess to you that they feel useless, they hate being old, and they can't wait to die; residents who used to be an absolute riot, and then they had a stroke and can't move or eat and you feel so bad for them; people with advanced dementia that can't do anything but lay there in bed and stare, etc. etc. And of course people die all the time. When you get an admission sometimes you think "this person is going to be a nightmare" but they turn out to be really cute and funny and you love them.

    Then there are your coworkers. Some of them will really irritate you, some will be great to work with, some slack off a lot. There's a lot of cliques and politics. Half the time it's worse than high school.