Nurses, whats your perspective on working with aides, or nursing students?


Thanks any one who takes time to read and respond to this. I thought it would be helpful for my perspective ( and possibly others like me) to hear your thoughts on nurse aides or nursing students. I got my cna about a year ago to sort of get my foot in the door, as i was planning on going to nursing school. I think I had this glorified idea, that I would be soaking up information and wisdom. In reality I was surprised to find out i was often treated like a maid, or worse ignored altogether. Many of the nurses seemed to act like I was invisible, which was difficult because I was supposed to be reporting to them.

It almost seemed as though the nurses had a particular disdain at times more so than just the way a superior would treat an underling.

I am bringing this up not to bash nurses, but to try understand why it seems to be like this.

I wonder if some of it is a result of societies lack of respect for nurses, so they feel undervalued and somehow take it out on those under them?

Also i feel like reading over this the tone was a little unfair, I want to be clear that many nurses have been very polite and friendly.

Jenni811, RN

1,032 Posts

Specializes in Intermediate care. Has 3 years experience.

I really hate having students :( It's really sad to say because i was a student not too long ago (2 years) and it just made my entire week if i was paired with a good nurse who taught me something. i don't want to "be that nurse" that they go back and say "my day sucked."

So i try, i really do try...but deep down, i hate it.

I don't mind teaching, when i have time. however; that is rare. I would love to have students pass the meds and for me to explain every single medication and quiz them. But it just can't happen. I usually allow them to do 1 or 2 patient's medications and i'll do the rest. To save time...i have them to one patient's assessments, maybe 2 if they can do it fast enough. In the time it takes them to do 1 or 2 i have nearly all 4 done and charted. I'd rather have them take their time on that one or 2 then stress about keeping up with me and not learning a thing. So usually i give them 1 patient who has a lot going on (i.e. ventilated patient or fresh surgical), and 1 "normal" patient who doesn't have alot going on. So when we sit down we can talk about the difference between the two. (I.e. lung sounds of the ventilated patient vs the chest pain observation patient whose is normal).

as for my nursing assistants, i absolutley LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!! It basically comes down to "Ok, im paired with a good CNA today. it's going to be a good day." Our CNA's do alot, they are VERY knowledage. If i have a CNA paired with me and they are in nursing school i do not mind teaching them some thigns. They pick up on things alot faster than nursing students (Sad to say). Im talking in GENERAL, not all....but experiece really goes a long way. I may have a student who is 4.0 book smart, but i'd rather have a CNA in nursing school with all C's and experience anyday!


116 Posts

Specializes in Med-surge, hospice, LTC, tele, rehab.

I have been an RN for 8 years now. I don't mind having students but it can be hard to be able to help them very much if I am having an extremely busy day. I remember what it was like to be a student so I try my best to be nice to them, be patient with them, and to help them learn. Usually I don't have a lot of interaction with them though because they are with their instructor.

As far as CNAs go, I don't have a problem with CNAs. I don't treat them like maids. I don't ignore them. I don't think I am better than them. I treat them with respect and expect the same in return. I like a good CNA. Don't like bad ones. By good I mean having a good work ethic, able to take direction from the nurse (which is their job) without major attitude, and actually caring about the patient (checking on incontinent patients, etc.) By bad I mean just the opposite. Unfortunately on my job, there are more bad ones than good ones right now though.

Specializes in ED. Has 5 years experience.

I love my CNAs. But I don't have time to teach them. I'm still learning myself.

NurseOnAMotorcycle, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,066 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Emergency, CEN. Has 10 years experience.

That's ok, send them my way, I love nursing students! Depending on their skill/school level, I try to get them in on procedures, etc. but mostly end up explaining who the go-to people are for questions/answers.

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

2 Articles; 6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 12 years experience.

Students are great as long as they understand timing - there is a time for questions, there is a time to try to jump in and do stuff, there is a time to be quiet, there is a time to get out of the way and just observe.

As to the CNA issue, to me, a CNA is there to do a job. Teaching them things "nursing related" may or may not be appropriate given their ability to separate their CNA role from their dreamed of nursing role. We have one individual right now on our floor who is in nursing school and working as a CNA. This individual avoids the CNA work (particularly bathing and cleaning up after BMs), is constantly trying to convey their "assessment findings" to the nurses that they work with and is constantly trying to get in to watch or perform nursing tasks on the patients. All this enthusiasm is well and good, but it sucks on a busy shift when the RN definitely needs a CNA to help get things done in a timely fashion.

As far as the "treated like a maid" thing goes, I am coming to find there is not a lot of avoidance for that. I say please and thank you every single time and I try to be conversational and pleasant with the CNAs during down time. I get them gifts and buy them lunch from time to time. But the truth is, there are things I can do that they cannot and their position is to do the things that both of us can do in order to free my time up for those activities only I can do for our patients. I was a CNA once. I know how it is. It is a lot of hard work taking direction from a lot of different people. Some people deal with being told what needs to be done better than others. Some are better than others at doing the telling. When I can, I do as much for my patients myself as I can, but delegating is part of my job. Showing CNAs "cool nursing stuff" is not. I will do it if it is appropriate and if I have time. Otherwise, we both have a job to do and I need them to do theirs so I can do mine. Most of the time I don't have time to be giving them extra clinical time.


1,341 Posts

I love having aides and or students. If I know an aide is interested in becoming a nurse I will work out loud while they are with me, explaining my thought processess and what not. They love it. The same with students. I do quiz the students more, I really challenge them and try to make them think critically. In return, they love me and are eager to help out. As a result, my shifts are much more bearable. That said, if a CNA working my set needs a hand boosting a pt or cleaning a pt all they have to do is ask. I will always find time to assist them.......

jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

51 Articles; 4,800 Posts

CNA's rock!! And they too have a difficult and demanding job. And I appreciate everything they do. And I tell them that. It is interesting, as CNA's usually know patients/residents well, and those who aspire to be a nurse are really in tune to subtle changes in a patient/resident's condition. They become really good at being eyes and ears. And they are in tune to the functional level of patients. What is safe, what a patient can or can not do. This in invaluable information. There are also aides who are restorative aides--and I have seen amazing work as far as residents/patients being so pleased that they can move better.

Students usually have a clinical instructor. That is their go to person for instruction. If a student is shadowing, I encourage writing down and looking up--especially if I have a patient that they are interested in. I encourage looking at the medical record, trying to put together a whole picture, which helps when one is in practice as a nurse.


5 Posts

I love students and CNAs! I love to teach. I was a CNA and a medical assistant before I became an RN, and I feel that should be required of every nurse, because until you have walked in a CNAs shoes, you really have no idea what their days are like. I am thankful to my CNAs every time I work with them. I respect them, and tell them that. Sometimes, I bring them treats! Thank god for CNAs, for without them we wouldn't be very good RNs (kind of like without RNs physicians wouldn't be as good!). Love you guys!

Did not read any replies. sometimes i go to work and i guess ignore my coworkers. i dont chit chat with most of them or talk to them unless i have to for work. i am not the moat friendly person i guess, i try to change that but i think it is too late now. if there is an aide that seems pretty smart and interested in medicine or nursing and asks questions or wants to see procedures or help (within their scope like hold a flashlight while i put in a foley), i let them and explain stuff. like when i put in a ng tube or change ostomies or wound care, trach care etc . only a very limited few have been receptive and seek this out. most who are in nursing school seem to be know it alls annoyed when i try to teach or show anything. so i only do it if asked. there are a few aides i LOVE working with . they are very competent and have a great work ethic. answer bells not in their assignment, help turn and change pts (things they should do but since many do not , it is awesome when done!) mostly they dont last because most people like that dont stick around for a few dollars above min wage and go on to a better paying job or finish nursing school. i think some of our aides should get paid alot more than they do .

There is a heirarchy and the rn/ lpn delegates to the aide. a dont bark orders but if i am slamed with nursing tasks and here comes another pt that needs to be walked or help to br and the aide is free i wilk ask them , "can you pleAse help546 to br?" i dont go looming for the aides to do stuff if it is faster for me to do it. i sometimes give them an explanation like i have meds to give or this or that but really i dont owe them one although most expect it.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Well, there are good nursing students and bad nursing students...and there are good aides and bad aides. My perspective depends on which students/aides I have working with me at the time.

Though generally, I enjoy having students work with me, and there's no way I could get my job done without the help of techs.