What to expect on first day as a CNA?


Hello everyone!

Tomorrow will be my first day working as a CNA in a mostly sub-acute facility. I will be working the evening shift. I have no prior experience (besides clinicals during my certification course). I'm very nervous and have no idea what to expect. What level of work will I be expected to do? Does the first day typically consist of shadowing or will I be expected to do any work on my own? Any advice would help. Thank you!

Red Kryptonite

2,212 Posts

Specializes in hospice. Has 3 years experience.

Expect to feel completely overwhelmed.

I was paired with an experienced CNA for about my first week, and after that I was independent and had my own assignment. This was in a hospital but I don't imagine the orientation period being much different anywhere else. CNAs don't need a ton.

Good luck!


58 Posts

Thank you! Also, do you think it would be appropriate for me to take notes? I thought it would be good to have as a reference in case I forget something in the future.

Red Kryptonite

2,212 Posts

Specializes in hospice. Has 3 years experience.

Maybe, but policies and procedures, HR stuff, etc should be available on the company website for reference. You will have access to care plans and patient info either in the EMR where you chart or on paper if your facility is still running old school. I know I like a good brain sheet in my pocket, so maybe Google CNA brain sheets and find a format you like. Yes I chart electronically but can't always do it right away, so having the relevant info written down helps.

Listen when the CNAs give each other report. You'll learn a lot and how to quickly distill what's important to know and pass on for your discipline.


588 Posts

Specializes in PCT, RN. Has 3 years experience.

It'll be overwhelming for the first few days. You'll likely be trained for a week or two before being set off on your own. For me the hardest part was learning the routine.

Make sure you pay attention to your trainers and their routines; they generally know what routines work best. But also don't be afraid to ask questions or make suggestions if you don't understand or think something could be done more efficiently.

Like RedKryptonite said, listen when report is given so you know relevant updates at the start of your shift. (This can be especially important if someone you cared for yesterday, who was not on contact iso, is now on contact iso today, for example).

A big thing is CCCOOOOMMMMUUUUNNNIIICCCCAAAATTEEEE. With everyone! Your fellow CNA's so you can efficiently get through the shift and your nurse if you feel like something is wrong or just a little off.

Good luck and you'll do great!

Missingyou, CNA

718 Posts

Specializes in Long term care. Has 20 years experience.

Yes, I agree, the first few days you will feel overwhelemed....especially on your first day going solo.

While you are shadowing another CNA ask them if YOU can do the work....transfer the resident, change their brief...whatever, rather than having them do it and you just standing there and watching. Ask your fellow CNA to give you tips and shortcuts whereever needed.

Just keep reminding yourself that it takes time to learn a routine....and you will learn it!

Forgive your co-workers if they seem impatient with you because you are slow and new. There is no excuse for rudeness, but being a CNA can be stressful and being able to "keep up with the pace" is important. They know you are new. They know you are learning. They have been in your shoes once before, BUT, it's tough when there is a brand new CNA on the floor. They don't really mean to be abrupt or impatient with you, it's just the work flow and sometimes the stress of it gets the best of them.

~Doing the best you can and giving 100% will be enough. :) and whatever you do, do not stand around wondering what to do next! Find something, anything!


5 Posts

I was paired with another CNA, and we worked together for about a week. I started working on my own afterwards.

Be prepared for a lot of poop! That's a given with this job though.

I had a wonderful gentleman pass away the day after I met him, and it broke my heart. Be prepared for that, but get to know EVERYONE your first day.

A lot of the things you learned in your class will be thrown out the window. In a perfect world, you will do everything you learned. Take the time to do everything right.

I hope I gave you some good advice, and good luck!


10 Posts

Well, how did it go? I live in a state where you must be and LNA or a caregiver. I had my first clinical for LNA class and I felt completely run down and overwhelmed and it was only four hours! I know in my heart this is what I want for my life, there's no greater satisfaction. I just have to get acclimated to the situation. I am terrified but also cannot wait for our second day on thursday.♡