A day in the life of a certified nursing assistant is certainly a busy one. CNA’s are valued members of the nursing profession who have continued contact with their patients, frequently more than an RN has. The CNA is usually the most hands-on, which allows them to get to know the patient in a far deeper way than any other person on the medical team.
Where Does the CNA Work
The CNA works in every area of patient care, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes. As a CNA, you would provide necessary care to those patients who need assistance with tasks such as toileting, grooming and hygiene, including bathing, dressing, and repositioning in the bed, or moving to a chair, or wheelchair. For those CNA’s who’ve had training, and certification in wound care, this would also fall under their duties.
Who is in Charge of The CNA
The CNA is usually supervised by, and reports to, a RN, or LPN. In some cases the CNA would report directly to the physician, depending on the size and scope of the facility. When the CNA is among the staff members, patients are offered more attention. The CNA usually addresses the (often endless) call lights, makes the rounds to assess vital signs, and sees to any specific needs of the patient that fall under their list of tasks. In short, a CNA’s job can be intense, exhausting, endless, and unbelievably rewarding.
Your Day as A CNA
When you arrive at your medical facility, you report to the supervisory staff member. That could be the charge nurse, nurse manager, or a nurse administrator. When you report you’ll be given your assignments and specific tasks for the day. Depending, again, on the facility, you may be required to float between floors and departments, or you may stay in one area. In some cases, if you’re coming in at the end of the previous CNA’s shift, you will go over their patient notes, and get a quick rundown of the cases you’re assigned.
You may begin by transferring patients to chairs to start their day, or to the dining room, as in the case of some physical rehab centers, or long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Other tasks you’ll perform, usually at the beginning of your shift, are helping patients get settled or repositioned in the bed, or transporting them to-and-from another area of the facility for procedures, therapy, or tests.
Your Patients Count on You
As your day progresses, you’ll be called upon by your patients for assistance in other areas, including taking a walk, or a trip to the bathroom. One of the most important duties a CNA can provide is helping the patient maintain dignity in otherwise personal areas of care. This is especially true when you’re working with the elderly, or those with limited physical abilities.
Offering your patient some semblance of decorum and respect is significant. Your patient may rely on your for such personal tasks as diapering, emptying of urinals and bedpans, changing catheter drainage bags, and many other situations that can challenge a person’s dignity. As a CNA, your empathy and discretion is perhaps the biggest plus in your toolkit.
Other Daily Tasks of the CNA
In some care facilities, it may fall on the CNA to perform blood glucose checks. You’ll then report your results and you may need to ask for some intervention, or adjustments to be made, if the patient’s numbers aren’t within the normal range. The CNA is also typically responsible for recording the patients’ food intake, as well as waste output.
A Special Bond
Because you have the most interaction with your patients, you’ll develop a special bond. They will tend to be their most authentic with you, which places you in a very unique position. Not only will the patient rely on you for so much of his or her day-to-day care, but the other members of the medical team will look to you to alert them to any questions or concerns the patient may have, as well as letting them know if your patient has developed an emotional state that needs to be addressed.
Family Members Count on You Too
Your patients’ family members will also come to rely on you to keep their loved one comfortable and in good care. They may approach you, on the patient’s behalf, with concerns, either of a physical nature, or emotional. You, of course, will need to alert the applicable member of the medical team.
Your career as a CNA can be challenging, no doubt. No two days are alike and as much as you have it all figured out one day, the next day may be extremely difficult. As a CNA you’re an integral part of the healthcare team and essential to patient care. You’re resilient and able to multitask, seemingly, without much effort. You know how much your patients need you.