Tell me the truth about being a CNA

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OK seriously give me a typical day because...I've heard stories and it sounds bad so far. I wonder if I can stand it. I figured its how I would work thru school because I don't what else will have the flexibility. A friend in med school said the cna's are treated really badly and they are of course doing the stuff no one else wants to. So anybody a cna? Tell me about it.



775 Posts

When I was training to be an LPN I spent 2 weeks working as a CNA, on a surgical floor, day shift, in a medium size hospital. The charge nurse acted like a drill sargeant in the Marine Corps. Scolded me because I dared to try to look at a chart to find out what diet someone was on. "You aides aren't allowed to look in charts" Was ordered around so much that I never even had time to go to the bathroom :chuckle

Aaaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Came home so exhausted all I could do was sleep. Never felt so worn out in my life. Do not know how some people manage that. More power to them.

Good luck :)

Achoo!, LPN

1,749 Posts

Specializes in Urgent Care.

I have been externing at a hospital during the day shift. It consisted of getting the patients ready for breakfast, feeding if necessary,morning vitals, bathing and bedmaking, then noon vitals. She had 8 patients on med/surg, and this was a rural hospital. Don't know if it helps or not.


20 Posts

I was a CNA for 3 years before becoming an RN. At first I looked at it as what I had to do, to get through it to become a nurse. I started in a nursing home, and didn't last long there. I threw up my first day, after an advanced MS patient threw up, and I was thrown in there to clean her up on my own. I had a real hard time in the beginning dealing with the "dirty" stuff.:imbar

I soon tried very hard to get on at the local hospital. After a few months of submitting application after application, I finally got on to the night shift. It was a piece of cake compared to how I was running my buns off at the nursing home. A lot of the nurses were rude and demanding at first, but I kinda earned their friendship as I went. Before I knew it, none of the what I used to think of as "dirty" stuff bothered me anymore, and I started to love my job.

Now that I'm a nurse, and in charge of caregivers, we really get along well, and they have said to me they look up to me becuase I have "been there" and I am not afraid to jump in and help out. I don't ask them to do anything I would not want to do.

It grows on you, or it doesn't...some are not made for it, but give it a chance.

you definately have to "find your place" or find a place you can feel good about what you do. I know the nursing home was not for me, but some are really good at it, and like it.:)


106 Posts

truthfully it stinks being a cna. it's one reason why i left the idea of pursuing nursing as a career. i worked in a rural hospital for about 6 months. it wasn't so bad at first but i worked a lot of third shifts and i would be the only cna for 26 patients. the nurses would dump all of their baths on me and expected me to do about 12 complete bed baths while they all sat at the nurse's station and eat t.v. dinners and read the newspaper and gossip. i was so miserable i quit w/o even putting in a notice. the last straw was when a male nurse decided he wanted to confront me while giving a bed bath in front of a patient why i had took so long getting vitals and I's & O's for 26 patients while and was not immeadiately avaiable to help him give a bed bath even though the patient was able to move on their own. i am now pursuing allied health and never have looked back.


775 Posts

Karen - Just a thought - after putting in my two cents worth about my experience as a CNA. You might give a thought to being a caregiver. You can find people, like quadriplegics, that need someone to help them out. Or in a group home for the disabled. I am now an RN, working with MR/DD clients in group homes, and we have 2 -3 caregivers each shift for four clients, and 2 staff on graveyard. It is a really cushy job compared to being a CNA, especially in nursing homes. We have had a number of caregivers who have been going to nursing school working there and they found plenty of time to study. They start at $8.50 an hour here in Oregon. :)


14 Posts

I lasted only one day as a CNA. I took a job through an agency, and they sent me to a nursing home, where there gave me 11 patients to bathe, feed, etc. I actually cried in the middle of the shift. I was so tempted to walk off the job, but it took everything in me to stay. I can honestly say I would rather work at Mcdonald's for the pay they give you.

Gompers, BSN, RN

2,691 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

Completely honest, eh?

Well, if you're planning on becoming a nurse, being a CNA will be a good learning experience if you find the right place to work. Being a CNA before you get your RN can make you or break you - you'll either be more determined to become a nurse or you'll want to quit altogether. Most of the time, a hospital is a much better choice than a nursing home because you will usually have less patients and many more learning experiences. You'll learn how hospitals run and get comfortable with working in one. Doing all the vital signs, patient care, and "dirty work" will help you TONS when you start doing nursing clinicals, because it'll all be second nature to you and you'll be able to focus more on the new nursing tasks that you need to perform. You'll also always remember what it feels like to be the low man on the todum pole, and it might just make you a more compassionate nurse later on.

Just my opinion, of course.


1,569 Posts

Specializes in LDRP.

i was a cna years ago and it was mentally and physically draining-i was in a nursing home. it was good experience in terms of what i DO NOT want to do-lol!

becoming a caregiver is an excellent idea. i have also worked as a unit secretary and that gave me some wonderful experience. you can try thaings out and see what fits you best. i have a couple cna friends that like it quite a bit!


178 Posts


to say that being a CNA, in my experience, sucks would be an understatement. it's really not a fun job by any means. where i work, everyone wants to quit every day. it would be a lot better if there were more of us...more caring for patients...less rushing to get in and out of there because you've got too many people in too little time....

the reason i keep with it is because of what i learn about being a nurse from the nurses. i have all the basics down even though i have not started my rn courses yet.

aides do not get paid nearly enough or are appreciated nearly enough for the stuff they do!

during work i just keep telling myself that "this is paying for nursing school, this is paying for nursing school...." it's my mantra! many days it's the only thing that will keep a smile on my face. that, and the people i am taking care of, of course. it's a good feeling that you are making people feel good!


Specializes in Gynecology/Oncology.

I did it for a while and was miserable. You get all the crappy work, you're underpaid, underappreciated, etc. Some days I just literally cleaned up poop the whole shift. Sometimes I would have a pt. that as soon as you got them cleaned, boom, they're going again. :crying2: BUT- because of that, I will forever respect my own cnas when I'm out of school.


139 Posts

Just wanted to say Hi and introduce myself and give you a little info about my experiences. I am married and have two sons and another son on the way (I am seven months prego), I start an RN program on Sept 20th and will be induced after clinicals on Sept 24th.

Anyhow, I have been and continue to be an STNA here in southeastern ohio. (Since March 2003) Have to say it is a very draining job--physically and emotionally. It is not all bad, there are the moments of thanks from residents (I work in a nursing home) and even from co-workers. I am pretty lucky at my work because alot of our employees there are related. Alot! Untill, recently my mom worked there with me. So, that makes it easier to have support at work.

I have gotten over the gross part of my job, I don't even think twice about it now. However, I don't know if I'll ever get over mucous!

I work 3 12's a week, unless I pick up bonus time.

My typical day--------come in at 7p. Answer call lights, help get residents to bed (bathing, putting night clothes on, brushing teeth, etc). Around 8 pass ice and snacks. Then hopefully finish putting remaining R in bed. Do a bedcheck at 9:30, then at 10 do paperwork and flow sheets. At 11 take my change-over break. Come back get towels, socks, linens, etc. Pass them and lay out clothing, linens for morning. Answer call lights, etc. At midnight do a bedcheck, at 0030 breaktime. Come back to pm paperwork, sometimes do nurses I&O's. At 0130 do another bedcheck then at 0200 lunchtime. Continue to answer call lights, straighten residents rooms, do whatever cleaning needs done, etc. At 0330 do final bedcheck, then go on last break. Come back fill in I&O's start getting ready to get ppl up for am. At 0430-+0500 we start getting residents up. Have a total of eight in my section. Must give complete baths, dress, brush teeth, comb hair, make beds, etc. Also, must weigh some residents. Clock out at 0700!

I have to say that there are moments when I miss working in retail. Then, I think this is the only job I've ever had where I don't feel guilty when I'm not with my children. Because no matter how disgusting it can be, I am truly helping and making another persons life better.


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