need advice for first cna job


Hi everyone,

I was hired at a nursing home full time which it took me forever to find this job. I had been looking for over 5 months and though I would've preferred a part time job since I'm in school I took the opportunity. Its better than having no job. I had 3 days orientation and felt confident I could handle it on my own. I always heard nursing homes were crazy busy but during orientation we had time to relax and watch tv with the residents or just waste time sitting down. I was surprised and thought "well this is a lot easier than what I imagined". Yesterday was my first day working alone having a section to myself. I was busy the entire time! I did not do a wonderful job as I thought I would and feel like a failure. I would take a very long time over 10 or 15 minutes just to change one person. For some reason during orientation I would go a little faster but now I don't. It took me forever to change everyone about 2 hrs for the 14 or so residents I had. I think 3 of them were able bodied so I didn't have to worry about them so much.

I also forgot a resident in the dinning room, I just wanted to die! Thankfully I had other cnas helping me out, with out them i'd probably still be there until 1 or something. I feel so bad asking for help and having others do my job since I know they have their own residents to take care of. I feel bad that I'm so slow when it comes to changing and stuff. I didn't even do a shower since there was some confusion. I probably would've never finished if I had to do them.

I do feel terrible and have no confidence in my skills anymore. I got out at 11:30pm while the next shift was asking y I was still there. Even the nurses who worked with me were telling me to go home and leave the garbage for the next shift. I didn't think that was fair though so ii tried finishing my job. When I got home I remembered I forgot to empty a foley so now I feel even worst. The nurses would check on me periodically and ask if I was ok and would tell me they worry about me. I was glad that they check up on me but it made me feel like the worst can in the world! I don't want anyone to worry about me :(

The only thing I was happy about is that through all of the stress and rushing I was able to keep my cool in front of my residents and was kind and tried to talk to them while I was changing them or whatever. At least I feel I did my job of taking care of them even though I took forever doing it. I'm just so embarassed because usually I'm good at everything and fast. This has just completely lowered my confidence :( I guess this was more of a vent but I would like to get any advice or your experiences when you were a new cna . I hope I get quicker at it so I'm not so embarrased.


2 Articles; 724 Posts

Specializes in public health. Has 5 years experience.

honey, you need more than 3 days of orientation. If you don't feel comfortable doing things yourself, ask for more orientation. Also, make a list of things to do before you start your shift, so you can check off things once you finish them and never have to forget doing anything.


27 Posts

I had a list that had almost everything I needed to do, which is why I felt I was prepared. But at the end I was just rushing and everyone was telling me to go home that I forgot the last foley I had to empty. I was not happy with what I saw during my orientation when it came down to how they treated their residents that I couldn't wait to be alone. And all of the nurses and cnas constantly check on me or are helping me that it is like if I was still in orientation. I figure I just have to keep practicing until I get quicker at it. But I'm scared I won't ever and they'll fire me or something.


54 Posts

Specializes in Long term care.

When I first started as an aide at a LTC facility I had pretty much the same experience. I would tell myself I am terrible, I can't believe that I am so slow, they all probably hate me, and I should just quit--but each day when I finished just a little bit sooner than the day before I would say "tomorrow will be better." And for the most part it was and still continues to be. LTC is tough but it is an amazing job after you get the hang of it--took me at least 2.5 months to feel fairly confident and I still have moments where I think OMG I am a terrible aide and I should be doing better and be perfect. Also...the real world is not like class my training they prepare you for bed bound patients. In most situations this is not the case. Don't worry, stick it out, breathe, and just do your best because someday in the future it will be your best and you will be glad you stuck it out. Good luck!


199 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, Home Health. Has 2 years experience.

My first day was hell. Then I changed shifts and went through hell all over again. Seriously, I needed to give at least one shower, get seven or eight people up and dressed (and make sure they'd done oral care), make sure all 12 residents on my floor were to the dining room, and do about 5 CBG's and insulin injections (my facility delegates us to do this) from 6-8 AM. Seriously? And that isn't even the largest LTC workload I've heard of. And let's not even go into the day I worked on another floor for the first time and spent 20-30 minutes wrestling with this one guy's prosthetic leg which had to go together very precisely and which I'd never been trained on. And meanwhile breakfast had started which he was very upset about ("I'm going to be LATE for BREAKFAST") and I was there sweating and swearing under my breath. It probably didn't help that I actually tried to do everything in the care plan or that I wasn't always as assertive/forceful as I could be about moving people along. And then meanwhile my coworkers were serving 70 people their breakfast and upset because I wasn't there on time to help them.

But within a month I was almost always on time AND doing a better job of anyone on that shift of finding and reporting skin conditions AND doing all ADL's on the care plan AND leaving my residents in great condition for the next shift.

Don't worry about your speed. If you're worried about getting in trouble for overtime then ask your managers how they feel about you staying later to finish your work. If they say you should pass the work on to the next shift then do it for now - you'll get faster. It's hard to imagine that you'll ever get it all done but believe me you will, especially when you get to know your residents well enough to somewhat predict their behaviors and preferences.

And yay you for caring that you finish your work! And for caring about your residents! And also YAAAY your workplace for having nurses and CNA's that care enough to check in on you and see how you're doing! If you read the posts on this forum enough you'll see helpful coworkers are NOT guaranteed in the CNA workplace. Your workplace sounds like a relatively supportive one and you sound like you'll do just fine.

LOL and if you're worried about paying back your coworkers don't worry, they'll ask you for help when they need it! And when you get better if you have spare time you can always offer and I bet you they will very seldom say no!


27 Posts

Yes I'm definitely thankful for having helpful nurses and fellow CNAs. I didn't think I would after reading posts on here so I was surprised how helpful everyone is. I'm not getting paid for any extra time I spend there, that was made clear my first day which I'm fine with since I only stuck around a half hour or so. Nurses did tell me to leave it for the next shift but I tried to finish everything. I met the person who took my section for the next shift and he was also nice and told me he would let me know how he thought I did for my first official day (I'm assuming by looking around the rooms and by in what condition I left the residents). Tomorrow will be my second day alone so hopefully I finish on time at least. I'm also a little concerned since it seems that on fridays I will be moved around to a different floor. I'm worried it will be like the first day all over again!

Its not so bad that I want to quit but I guess would just love to be like those more experienced CNAs. For that I know it will take some time. I need to stick it out and be patient because I do want to be a nurse and thought this would be a good place to start. Now when it comes down to actually getting accepted into a nursing school with my horrible grades....well that's another thread I guess :)

Thank your for your words of encouragment :) feels good that I'm not the only one to feel this way and to know that I will most likely improve my speed and care (without hurting my back.) Guess I was doing something wrong because its a little sore. Again thank you :)


17 Posts


Dorali, BSN, LPN, RN

1 Article; 471 Posts

Specializes in 6 yrs LTC, 1 yr MedSurg, Wound Care. Has 12 years experience.

PLEASE don't stress yourself out over this. I can guarantee that you are being harder on yourself than anyone else is. There are around the clock shifts for a reason, you can NOT get everything done in one shift, that's why someone comes in to relieve you. If you do forget to do something and remember later, call your work and talk to the aide that came in behind you and say "hey, I forgot to ______. Would you mind taking care of that?" They won't care, and it shows a little something about you.

My advice: Take one week to do the best you can and not stress out. That's what I did. Learn what you can from experience and the other CNAs. Don't be afraid to ask questions. They are very happy to have an extra pair of hands. After that first week, take a step back and asses what your weaknesses are and start working on that. It doesn't take long to get in the groove of things when you're doing it over and over.

And keep in mind WHY you wanted to do this in the first place.



40 Posts

Specializes in family medicine.

You are fine !!I had 3 days orientation and 2 nights. I can for sure say that jumping in on any shift other than night is hard. I work night shift so things are slow and I learn new things daily at my own pace, once you are familiar with your residents you will know what they like and dislike and also how often they urinate (that way you dont have to change the whole bed).When I am working alone I have 24 residents so I hardly get to sit on those nights but do what you can! Know that you are Human and you are doing as much as you can to finish your rounds. I've only been working as a CNA for a month and I could tell you that each day gets better and much easier. The first few weeks I came into work and I'd have to ask ok what do I do now?? But once you become comfortable you will come in and it will be a piece of cake!!


27 Posts

Thanks guys, made me feel better :) work has been better since I've kind of gotten to know my residents. I did work a different floor and even though I didn't feel as lost I did feel nervous since I knew none of the faces corresponding to the names on the door. I was afraid to lose one lol. Thankfully I believe it went well. Thanks again guys :)


185 Posts

Hi, I'm so sorry this is so stressful and I know I will be feeling the same way in a few months when I finish my CNA class! I wanted to ask about what you were told about no pay for extra time spent. I do not know what state you are in, but in NC where I'm from that is illegal. If you are an hourly employee and not on set salary, then you must be paid for all hours clocked and it is illegal for an employer to allow you to work off the clock. Please check out the employment laws in your state and make sure that you are getting properly compensated for the work you do. If your state is the same as mine, then you should either be paid for your extra time OR the employer can require you to clock out and go home when your shift is over regardless of whether the tasks are completed. Good luck to you! I'm sure you'll get faster and better every day and take good care of your patients!