Nursing Assistants are an important part of the nursing team
Nursing assistants—also called nurse’s aides or CNAs—are on the front lines of patient care. They are part of professional nursing teams who help to care for residents living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
If you are in a nursing assistant training program, or if you are already working in the field, you are starting to learn about the challenges of the job. Caring for needy patients can be hard work, but it is rewarding too. You should be proud of what you do, and proud of the care that you provide for patients. Here are some suggestions to help make your job a little easier.
1. Carry a small notebook
Unless you have a steel-trap memory, it’s hard to remember all of the details that are expected of a CNA. When you start your shift, you may not know what each patient needs, or what tasks have or have not been completed. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a small notebook in your pocket. At the beginning of your shift, jot down what needs to be done for each resident. As your shift continues, jot down reminders to yourself. Write down any questions that you may need to ask of the supervising nurse. It’s a great way to keep your tasks organized.
2. Ask questions
If you are new to the job, it’s very important to learn by observing more experienced practitioners. Watch what they do and ask them questions until you understand how to do the procedure correctly. It’s better to ask first and avoid making a mistake. Try these suggestions:
- Observe your supervisor and ask him or her to talk you through the steps they are taking.
- At the beginning of your shift, ask the previous CNA what they did, and what still needs to be done. This will help make sure you don’t miss anything or duplicate things that were already done.
- Ask for advice. Ask your supervisor about the best tips for handling certain residents. Ask your residents about how they most like having something done for them, whether it is feeding them or helping them brush their hair. Ask other CNAs what tips they might share.
3. Document, document, document!
Document everything you do on the patient’s chart. As soon as you take their vitals, record it in the chart. This is very important so that the whole nursing team knows what services have been provided to the patient. Documentation is critical for good communications and good record keeping.
4. Stay organized
Being a nurse’s aide can get busy on certain days. You may feel like you are running back and forth between rooms, and into the hallway to get supplies, and then back to another resident’s room. Try to stay organized so that you can work efficiently. This will save you time and frustration.
- Arrive at work 15 minutes early to plan out your shift. Put your tasks in order of priority, and see how you can combine your tasks to be more efficient.
- Gather your supplies before you enter a resident’s room. Try to think of everything you will need, from linens, to a vitals kit, to gloves, to their favorite juice. Those extra trips to the supply closet will cost you time. Avoid them if can.
- See if you are allowed to bring in your own vital signs kit. (This will depend on your employer.) Having your own kit will save you from trying to search for a free kit every time you need one.
- Wear a waist belt or a fanny pack to carry supplies that you need often.
Nursing is a field where emotions can run high. The days are busy and many people want your attention, including patients, their family members, and your fellow team members. In spite of all this, you need to remember to respect everyone around you.
- Respect your patients first. Treat them with the dignity they deserve. Remember, they are the reason you are a nursing assistant!
- Respect your co-workers. Be polite to one another. Offer to lend a hand if you have spare time. Show up to your shift on time and do your job well. Keep a positive attitude.
- Respect yourself. Some nurses are so busy serving others that they forget to take care of themselves. Being a nursing assistant can be physically demanding. Be sure you sleep well, eat well, and stay hydrated. Learn to lift carefully so you don’t hurt your back. Take your breaks, and give your feet a rest when you need to.
We hope these tips are helpful to you as you pursue a career as a nursing assistant. Remember, you have a lot to be proud of! Your assistance is helping patients every day with the things they need to lead a better and more fulfilling life.
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business. Our CNA program, based out of our Danbury, Connecticut campus, is open to adults in the Danbury region. No prior experience is necessary. Contact us today to find out more about our career options.