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Nurses forced to work as aides

I am frustrated with my hospital. We have a shortage of aides, and no wonder because they have a hard, backbreaking job for measly pay. As a result, sometimes when we nurses show up to work, we're made to work as aides. No notice, just here: you're an aide today.

This seems really unprofessional to me. I signed up to be a nurse. I never worked as an aide because I know how difficult that job is, and I don't want it. It's confusing to the patients to have two RN's running around. Thankfully, the other nurses haven't asked me to medicate a patient, because I'd have to say no since I didn't get a nursing report, nor did I look up the patients to a sufficient level to be able to take full-on nursing care for them nor did I assess them, but I can see how this could set up a problem in the future for a med error.

It just seems wrong on several levels. I guess this is what happens when you work in a hospital with no union. At least I still get my nursing pay, but I still feel that this is inappropriate.

Thoughts? Have you ever heard of this before?

emtb2rn, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency.

NewYorkerGirl, 2 minutes, unsportsmanlike conduct.

Seriously, the work of cna's is the basic foundation of nursing care.

NewYorkerGirl, 2 minutes, unsportsmanlike conduct.

Seriously, the work of cna's is the basic foundation of nursing care.

I know that. But I still don't want to do it for 12 hours a day. It's not what I signed up for.

Time to enroll in NP school I guess, even sooner than I thought.

floatRN

Specializes in Med-Surg.

Can the extra nurse be given an assignment instead? That way each RN has fewer patients but acts as aide and RN for some of those patients? That was done occasionally where I work and it worked out ok.

Lev, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency - CEN.

At my PRN job this happens pretty often. Some nurses prefer it. I don't mind it. It gives me a nice break sometimes and I get paid like a nurse.

I would be happy to receive RN pay for CNA work. It is better than being sent home, or worse, laid off. That being said, if this bothered me, now that I know what is established policy for this employer, I would seek a job elsewhere.

I agree that it's not ideal or anyone's first choice of what to do, but it beats getting sent home and not paid (unless you like staying home and not getting paid :)). I've had this happen a few times working in psychiatric settings, and always figured getting paid my RN wage to do the tech's job was a pretty sweet deal.

They do that on my floor as well, only because they are seriously short of techs and don't want to understaff the assigned nurses. It's an expensive solution for the floor but at least they are not expecting the nurses to complete their nurse responsibilities as well as the tech responsibilities. Do you have the option to say no or request that you only be assigned that once every so many shifts? Is management in the process of hiring CNAs or is this a long-term solution? .

Red Kryptonite

Specializes in hospice.

But I still don't want to do it for 12 hours a day. It's not what I signed up for.

Yes, actually, it is what you signed up for. The minute you accepted a nursing license. Many units don't have CNAs or enough of them. Incontinent care, peri care, skin care, toileting needs, these are all nursing responsibilities and your license can be disciplined for not fulfilling them. "The CNA was supposed to," will not save you because while you can delegate tasks, it's on your license to make sure they actually happen.

I will say this too, though, that it seems odd that they don't just give each nurse a smaller assignment so she can do total care on all her patients. If you're paying nursing wages, why not get nurse-level work for them? That's a head scratcher.

I agree that it's not ideal or anyone's first choice of what to do, but it beats getting sent home and not paid (unless you like staying home and not getting paid :)). I've had this happen a few times working in psychiatric settings, and always figured getting paid my RN wage to do the tech's job was a pretty sweet deal.

A real sweet deal, because I can get up close and personal with the patient/resident far better than when doing licensed nurse duties. Helps my morale, seeing as how I entered nursing to take care of others.

You're not made to work as an aide. It's your choice. You can quit any time. There are probably lots of folks lined up waiting for your job.

Welcome to the real world. The concept you are now beginning to embrace is total patient care: it's doing EVERYTHING an aide does and the nursing component too. Makes you really thankful for the days you have aides and can work your regular shift, doesn't it?

Life isn't fair. Staffing isn't good. It's a cruel world. Be glad you have a job.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

On some units, they don't have CNA's. They just do "primary care" with the RN doing everything.

I've heard if you work as a CNA but are a licensed RN, you are still held to the standards of an RN. Does anyone know if this is true? example : if you check a blood pressure and it is very low and report it to that patient's RN and he or she does not follow up, you could be responsible because you are a licensed RN especially if you usually work at this facility as an RN. If this is true it would be better like others have said to just have more RNs take assignments.

I've heard if you work as a CNA but are a licensed RN, you are still held to the standards of an RN. Does anyone know if this is true? example : if you check a blood pressure and it is very low and report it to that patient's RN and he or she does not follow up, you could be responsible because you are a licensed RN ...

Yes, that's true. Legally, you are held to the standards of your highest level of education and licensure, regardless of the job title and description under which you're working at that particular time.

Yes, that's true. Legally, you are held to the standards of your highest level of education and licensure, regardless of the job title and description under which you're working at that particular time.

Thanks Elkpark. In that case if you take vitals on 12 patients and have abnormals on 5 of them and report that to the RN you'd better make sure they follow up. Doesn't seem like a good way to run a unit. I wouldn't want to be put in that spot.

I was once working PRN at a local hospital. I went in one day and they assigned me to sit with a patient. Yes, they were using me as a SITTER. Needless to say I got the heck up out of there as fast as I could. I am NOT a sitter.

Huh.....hello...."wrong on several levels"!!! What idiotic medical facility pays RN's twenty-five dollars an hour to do the work of a CNA for fifteen dollars an hour?

(Obviously I'm just guessing on the salary here.) Are they trying to intentionally go broke? Some weird IRS scam?

But as others said I would love that job!

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

I don't know that facility I currently work at is LTC and chronically understaffed. There are no nurse/patient ratios in LTC so RNs routinely have 15 to 25 patients. Last night we had 39 patients with me (RN) 1 LVN and 2 CNAs. So I had a full patient load of 18 did two admits, Passed meds for my 18 plus managed 4 IV's as only the RN does IV's. I felt bad for the two CNAs who were working their Asses off and even helped an patient or two to the toilet and made up a few beds. I didn't take a break last night and my relief showed up 25 minutes late. I will be looking for other employment soon but need this job right now.

hppy

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education.

This seems really unprofessional to me. I signed up to be a nurse. I never worked as an aide because I know how difficult that job is, and I don't want it.

Here's the thing: everything that a CNA can do is part of the nurse's scope of practice; it's just the things that can be delegated to an unlicensed person. How would you feel if you worked in a place that didn't employ aides, and the nurse was responsible for everything?

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