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Hopefully taking CNA classes soon, tips/tricks?

Posted

This thread is mostly so I can talk to someone about this because I've annoyed my entire family at this point.

I applied for CNA classes at a nursing home about an hour away from where I live. I'm in a state where I could just challenge the test by myself but felt I would never be prepared enough so I sought out other, less expensive options. I found a place that offers classes, paid for, plus a bonus, and a job offer with a sign-on bonus after passing the class. I went for an interview, they sent in my background check, now I'm just waiting to hear back from them (fingers crossed for Tuesday)!

I'm super duper excited to start working in the healthcare field, hopefully this will open up the ability to go to nursing school! So, any tips, tricks, general advice for a new CNA?

Bdab, BSN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Always have a change of clothes, and a second set of scrubs in your car. Learned that one the hard way. Sometimes, it's wet, on you, and didn't come from you. Having backups on hand is fantastic! And make SURE you have shoes that you can comfortably stand (and even run in, when the occasion calls for it) for 10-14 hours a day, depending on your shift lengths.

Be prepared to meet a lot of workplace behavior that may or may not coincide with your standards. Expect to be tested by your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself but don’t act bossy toward others. Be the helpful person you would hope to have work alongside you. Always offer to help if you can. Suggest working with another as a team to do two assignments efficiently and quickly if the charge nurse does not automatically make assignments in pairs. Don’t be a tattletale but don’t be mum if you witness something that is just not right. Try to keep quiet about nursing school. Some CNAs resent “uppity” people just because they have no ambition to move up the career ladder themselves.

42pines

Specializes in Occupational Health; Adult ICU.

Read the fine print, before you sign any contract.

I’m RN but I’ve known many who have gone the CNA/LNA route.

I’ve noticed that the “take the free classes here,” places often have two-year, “you are stuck here,” clauses.

Once you have worked for a year, you’re worth more. Normally, depending on many factors, perhaps $2/hour more. (Covid-19 may or may not double/triple that). Therefore, if you must take lower than average start pay, and then be stuck with that pay for two years, unable to move to a better paying job, consider the math.

Unable to leave, (if such a clause applies) stuck by contract, if you lose out on a mere $2/hour, here’s the math: 52 weeks x 40 hours x $2 = $4,160, that you could lose by being unable to leave during the second year. That free class might become a very expensive “free” class.

Worse, some contracts have an embedded, “you owe us… …if you leave for any reason,” (This has become common in big-name hospitals for all nurses lately).

I’m not saying, “don’t,” rather, I’m saying read the fine print. Know what you’re getting in to. Look for reviews on the place you intend to work at. Check glassdoor.com. Stuck at a place, unable to leave can be awful.

Here in my state (NH) and the neighboring MA, there are programs that reimburse you for the cost of a Red Cross LNA class—you might be wise to see if one exists there too.

Best of luck!

14 hours ago, Bdab said:

Always have a change of clothes, and a second set of scrubs in your car. Learned that one the hard way. Sometimes, it's wet, on you, and didn't come from you. Having backups on hand is fantastic! And make SURE you have shoes that you can comfortably stand (and even run in, when the occasion calls for it) for 10-14 hours a day, depending on your shift lengths.

I didn't think about that, definitely sounds like a good idea. I was a server prior to COVID-19, so I'll probably keep wearing my super comfy non-slip shoes, those have gotten me through a few 16 hour shifts.

11 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

Be prepared to meet a lot of workplace behavior that may or may not coincide with your standards. Expect to be tested by your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself but don’t act bossy toward others. Be the helpful person you would hope to have work alongside you. Always offer to help if you can. Suggest working with another as a team to do two assignments efficiently and quickly if the charge nurse does not automatically make assignments in pairs. Don’t be a tattletale but don’t be mum if you witness something that is just not right. Try to keep quiet about nursing school. Some CNAs resent “uppity” people just because they have no ambition to move up the career ladder themselves.

Note taken. I try my best to be friendly and non confrontational, it's just the kind of person I am. I know other people aren't as easy to get along with but I've made it work in the past. I didn't think about the nursing school part, I'll try my best to only talk about it if they ask.

8 hours ago, 42pines said:

Read the fine print, before you sign any contract.

I’m RN but I’ve known many who have gone the CNA/LNA route.

I’ve noticed that the “take the free classes here,” places often have two-year, “you are stuck here,” clauses.

Once you have worked for a year, you’re worth more. Normally, depending on many factors, perhaps $2/hour more. (Covid-19 may or may not double/triple that). Therefore, if you must take lower than average start pay, and then be stuck with that pay for two years, unable to move to a better paying job, consider the math.

Unable to leave, (if such a clause applies) stuck by contract, if you lose out on a mere $2/hour, here’s the math: 52 weeks x 40 hours x $2 = $4,160, that you could lose by being unable to leave during the second year. That free class might become a very expensive “free” class.

Worse, some contracts have an embedded, “you owe us… …if you leave for any reason,” (This has become common in big-name hospitals for all nurses lately).

I’m not saying, “don’t,” rather, I’m saying read the fine print. Know what you’re getting in to. Look for reviews on the place you intend to work at. Check glassdoor.com. Stuck at a place, unable to leave can be awful.

Here in my state (NH) and the neighboring MA, there are programs that reimburse you for the cost of a Red Cross LNA class—you might be wise to see if one exists there too.

Best of luck!

I've been talking to a former CNA concerning the contract, but you really broke it down for me so I really understand what I could be losing. I really appreciate that! I'll definitely read all the fine print before making any decisions. I went ahead and looked up the nursing home on glassdoor with no reviews, but then checked Indeed, they seem to be alright overall (4.2/5 stars but only 6 reviews)

Thank you so much!

Update: I received a call today from the nursing home, they got my background check. Now I'm just waiting for the teacher to call me, fingers crossed for this week!

vampiregirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 11 years experience.

Most states have a website on which you can look up past results of state surveys for individual nursing homes. In the state I reside in, the department of health conducts these surveys. This is a good way to see what concerns have been addressed at a specific nursing home. An occasional unsubstantiated complaint is not concerning but frequent substantiated complaints and poor annual surveys are big red flags.

CNA skills are so helpful if you are interested in nursing. I still use my CNA stills frequently as I care for hospice patients. Nurses who have not been CNAs sometimes have a tough time transferring patients and positioning patients safety/ efficiently (although some have put forth effort to learn how to do this). Best of luck to you!

beachynurse, ASN, BSN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 36 years experience.

I've taught C.N.A.classes here in VA. I always told my students the there is the "state" way to do the skills and the working way to do them. Until you take the state test and pass it, you don't have the luxury of doing them the working way. If you want to pass, you continue to do all skills the "state" way so you continue to "practice properly" and increase your chances of passing on the first try. No short cuts!

Get your training at the nursing home, but please try to get into a hospital when your contract ends. They pay more and the CNA to patient ratio is lower. I recommend when you can working for an agency, so when they send you to a hospital they will know you (and like you, because you will be great. Right!?!?). If you apply it may be easier. As for work, it all depends on your work ethic. If you are a good worker then the basic 4 months of training will do. If you are lazy, then no amount of training is going to help you. Sure you'll struggle, but you get your stride. Everyone has a stride from CNA to RN. Learn from others and find out what works best for you. If after school, you are trained by someone who's stride is lazy and incompetent. Don't follow that lead. Those are the trainers who will set you up for failure.

Who knows I probably get my stride from 2 or 3 aides who trained me over a decade ago.

The Thread, started by me, can help. It is mostly RN related, but it does have some very good points. Once you start your classes you will see how being ahead of the game will help you as a CNA. You may not be passing meds, but you are expected to feed, get dressed and undressed, bathed several patients; and ADL care in 8 to 12 hrs.

By following some of their tips and tweaking it for a CNA you will do good.

"Why are some RNs always busy and others not busy"

On 5/26/2020 at 6:34 AM, caliotter3 said:

Be prepared to meet a lot of workplace behavior that may or may not coincide with your standards. Expect to be tested by your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself but don’t act bossy toward others. Be the helpful person you would hope to have work alongside you. Always offer to help if you can. Suggest working with another as a team to do two assignments efficiently and quickly if the charge nurse does not automatically make assignments in pairs. Don’t be a tattletale but don’t be mum if you witness something that is just not right. Try to keep quiet about nursing school. Some CNAs resent “uppity” people just because they have no ambition to move up the career ladder themselves.

I have been working as Personal Care Attendant (PCA) for 5 weeks now (PCA does the work of a CNA with a few exceptions, I will be taking my CNA course in about a week), and this is great advice.

What I have discovered at my location is there are all types of people and personalities that do the work of CNA. Be prepared to hear loads of gossip about co-workers and their work ethic, what so-and-so did or didn't do. Avoid contributing to the gossip, just go do the work you were hired to do, it will make your life so much easier. I am a non-confrontational person as well, I don't like being involved in unnecessary drama and the best way (I speak only for myself) is to just listen if they want to talk, but do not put in your two-cents. Be a team player, ask questions, and learn from your co-workers (the good and bad). I would also say, give yourself some grace because being a CNA can be hard sometimes, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Have compassion for the residents you will be helping, try to provide the care that you hope to get, or that you would want for your loved ones. It makes all the difference for these individuals, they know when CNA's don't like them and they feel as though they are a burden. Have fun, and get to know your residents, you maybe the only person who takes an interest in them and what they have to say. Good luck with your course!

Edited by GoingtobeRN

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

As long as you smile a lot, ask questions when you need to, and answer “Sure I can help with that!” or “Let me find someone who can help with that” when people ask you to do something— you’ll do great! The only CNAs that have a hard time are the ones who want to sit and play on their phones. If you’re a hard worker and you try your best, you’ll be at the top of the heap.

I wanted to thank everyone for their input, I really appreciate it! I start classes on the 15th, so it's just a waiting game now. I'll be studying and reading your comments in the meantime. Again, thank you all so much!

aethereality, CNA

Specializes in Acute care. Has 2 years experience.

On 5/26/2020 at 4:34 AM, caliotter3 said:

Be prepared to meet a lot of workplace behavior that may or may not coincide with your standards. Expect to be tested by your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself but don’t act bossy toward others. Be the helpful person you would hope to have work alongside you. Always offer to help if you can. Suggest working with another as a team to do two assignments efficiently and quickly if the charge nurse does not automatically make assignments in pairs. Don’t be a tattletale but don’t be mum if you witness something that is just not right. Try to keep quiet about nursing school. Some CNAs resent “uppity” people just because they have no ambition to move up the career ladder themselves.

If you are going to work in a nursing home, it may not be possible to do a two-person team to finish assignments. You may still able to get help from other CNAs for different situations but at least, I have not seen a two-person team at my nursing home and where I did my clinical training. Be ready for staffing shortage if that does happen!

On 5/27/2020 at 3:02 PM, vampiregirl said:

Most states have a website on which you can look up past results of state surveys for individual nursing homes. In the state I reside in, the department of health conducts these surveys. This is a good way to see what concerns have been addressed at a specific nursing home. An occasional unsubstantiated complaint is not concerning but frequent substantiated complaints and poor annual surveys are big red flags.

CNA skills are so helpful if you are interested in nursing. I still use my CNA stills frequently as I care for hospice patients. Nurses who have not been CNAs sometimes have a tough time transferring patients and positioning patients safety/ efficiently (although some have put forth effort to learn how to do this). Best of luck to you!

At the nursing home where I did my clinical training, there was one LVN who had no idea how to reposition patients and did not even respond to call lights. That LVN even told me to ignore the call lights but I still responded because I knew the patient needed help. I also let my instructor know. Therefore, I think CNA work is a great experience for anyone interested in nursing and it helps me to learn about bedside manners, what to look and check for, how I can help nurses and what to tell the nurses, etc.

On 5/27/2020 at 4:56 PM, beachynurse said:

I've taught C.N.A.classes here in VA. I always told my students the there is the "state" way to do the skills and the working way to do them. Until you take the state test and pass it, you don't have the luxury of doing them the working way. If you want to pass, you continue to do all skills the "state" way so you continue to "practice properly" and increase your chances of passing on the first try. No short cuts!

I wholeheartedly agreedwith @beachynurse because I had a hard time differentiating the real CNA skills and the state CNA skills. My instructor even told me that I was showing insubordination and I was struggling during clinicals. Eventually, I learned with the help of my classmates and passed the exam. Do whatever the instructor teach you. Do not follow real CNA skills at your clinical until you have your certification and actually start working.

On 5/27/2020 at 8:19 PM, DesiDani said:

Get your training at the nursing home, but please try to get into a hospital when your contract ends. They pay more and the CNA to patient ratio is lower. I recommend when you can working for an agency, so when they send you to a hospital they will know you (and like you, because you will be great. Right!?!?). If you apply it may be easier. As for work, it all depends on your work ethic. If you are a good worker then the basic 4 months of training will do. If you are lazy, then no amount of training is going to help you. Sure you'll struggle, but you get your stride. Everyone has a stride from CNA to RN. Learn from others and find out what works best for you. If after school, you are trained by someone who's stride is lazy and incompetent. Don't follow that lead. Those are the trainers who will set you up for failure.

Who knows I probably get my stride from 2 or 3 aides who trained me over a decade ago.

I enrolled in a sponsored CNA class. I will have to pay back the tuition because I got a job offer at a hospital. Start applying to hospital around 4 or 5 months of work. Prepare for interviews. Find the right methods and tips to help you become an efficient, reliable, and compassionate CNA. Even after the CNA preceptor orients you for the actual job, always check the care plan / Kardex or ask the nurse questions. I found out the my preceptor told me the wrong information on patients' continence and incontinence. Ask questions and assess the situation. Patient safety is very important.

On 5/28/2020 at 5:12 PM, GoingtobeRN said:

I have been working as Personal Care Attendant (PCA) for 5 weeks now (PCA does the work of a CNA with a few exceptions, I will be taking my CNA course in about a week), and this is great advice.

What I have discovered at my location is there are all types of people and personalities that do the work of CNA. Be prepared to hear loads of gossip about co-workers and their work ethic, what so-and-so did or didn't do. Avoid contributing to the gossip, just go do the work you were hired to do, it will make your life so much easier. I am a non-confrontational person as well, I don't like being involved in unnecessary drama and the best way (I speak only for myself) is to just listen if they want to talk, but do not put in your two-cents. Be a team player, ask questions, and learn from your co-workers (the good and bad). I would also say, give yourself some grace because being a CNA can be hard sometimes, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Have compassion for the residents you will be helping, try to provide the care that you hope to get, or that you would want for your loved ones. It makes all the difference for these individuals, they know when CNA's don't like them and they feel as though they are a burden. Have fun, and get to know your residents, you maybe the only person who takes an interest in them and what they have to say. Good luck with your course!

I started my job as a CNA in March. I always ask for help from other CNAs if I can (even though, the response I get most of the time is they are busy with their patients). If I cannot get other CNAs to help me, I will approach the therapists then the nurses. You work within your scope of practice. Assess everything before you start. Most of the time, I was able to work by myself using the lifts and assessing the circumstances. Each situation varies and you ALWAYS need to assess. Your facility needs to train you properly regarding types of assists, types of lifts, and resources. If the facility you are working at does not have the right resources, do look for another facility unless the facility is the closer one to home or is the only one in your community. As a CNA, you should focus on your tasks and duties for the day. Ask for help when needed and help out when you can. If something suddenly happens such as an emergency or whatever, let the nurse know or the supervisor know. Always let them know if you cannot complete something due to problems unexpectedly happen. The nurse has power and can write you up if they think you are showing them insubordination. At the end of the day, YOU are responsible for your certification. I wish you the best. I love my job and it is helping me on my journey to apply to nursing school.

Edited by truc

On 5/26/2020 at 7:34 AM, caliotter3 said:

Be prepared to meet a lot of workplace behavior that may or may not coincide with your standards. Expect to be tested by your coworkers. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself but don’t act bossy toward others. Be the helpful person you would hope to have work alongside you. Always offer to help if you can. Suggest working with another as a team to do two assignments efficiently and quickly if the charge nurse does not automatically make assignments in pairs. Don’t be a tattletale but don’t be mum if you witness something that is just not right. Try to keep quiet about nursing school. Some CNAs resent “uppity” people just because they have no ambition to move up the career ladder themselves.

You hit the nail on the head about working as a CNA at a nursing home. The part where you said, "keep quiet about nursing school because CNA's resent uppity people." They believe no one should have ambitions since they don't have it. 

Edited by Just Peachy

Master the one-turn-change. It will save you precious time and effort. Unless someone has had a major blowout, I can change someone by only turning them once.

Has a lot to do with positioning the depend properly and making sure to reeeeally roll them over on their one side.