The role of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is essential to teams that care for the wellbeing of clients, especially those teams delivering home-based care. As the frontline provider of these care services, a CNA is often the first professional to note both the physical and mental changes in clients.
The work of a CNA is rewarding, demanding, fast-paced and varied. If you are a CNA or aspire to be one, then you know there’s never a dull moment. Time passes quickly on any given day.
Honing your professional abilities will ensure you bring your best for the care of your clients. Continuing to learn and grow professionally will also position you for advancement in your career. Here, we offer ten professional tips to excel as a CNA.
- Be prepared with a plan for each day. At the top of any list for an effective CNA is the importance of being organized and prepared for your day. Be sure to have the equipment and supplies you’ll need so you won’t be delayed in performing your work at a client’s home. Write tasks and lists of steps out (or store them on your favorite note-taking app), and make your notes specific for each client.Over at Harris School of Business, they offer “6 Tips for Being a Good Patient Care Technician,” which breaks down this point and suggests that you carry a fanny pack to keep those most-essential supplies on you, including a pad and pen handy for making notes.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter Drucker
- Share your compassion. In your work as an in-home CNA, your work usually involves assisting clients with highly personal tasks such as toileting and bathing. By remaining compassionate with your clients, you establish a climate of mutual respect.And since you bring care services to your clients in the sanctuary of their homes, the importance of establishing a high level of trust is even more essential. By demonstrating your compassion as a skilled nursing assistant, you set the groundwork for a positive experience, which sets your client at ease when they feel most vulnerable.
- Be a patient listener. Hand-in-hand with compassion comes the ability to be a good listener. We honor each other when we fully listen to others and demonstrate that they have been heard. At no time is this more important than when a person needs care.Take a pause, breathe and pay close attention to what your client is saying about their needs and concerns. You are not required to produce answers but to acknowledge what has been said. Perhaps a resolution is within your control or abilities, but when it is not, you may be the conduit to pass their information on to family and your team at the office. When you truly listen, you provide powerful medicine.“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey
- Pay attention to details. As the expert who brings care to your client’s door most frequently, often you are the one who establishes the most significant relationship. You will have ongoing communication with the client, and your work will often entail keeping a thorough and accurate record of the care you provide as well as essential health data you obtain from the client. Your log of those details is what ensures uniformity of service, as well as changes which may need to be made in the future. Be sure you are following the protocols to log and report information.
- Understand basic medical terminology. Over at Indeed in the article “8 Skills for Your CNA Resume,” they suggest you leverage your knowledge of medical terminology. As you read this, you might either be CNA or working toward becoming a certified nursing assistant, so you will have learned a fair amount of terminology you can employ.Expect to increase your knowledge of medical terminology and pharmaceutical names rapidly as your career grows. The more you understand of the language used in medicine, the more you’ll understand your client’s specific needs and the care you provide in your role.“They certainly give very strange names to diseases.” – Plato
- Use your strongest communication skills. The ability to clearly provide information is critical when talking with your clients. Be precise and informative about everything you know and can report. As you observe and receive information, make sure to pass it along accurately when required by family and staff at the home office.
- Ability to follow protocols and work independently. You’ll work and communicate with a team at the office and as you serve your clients. But in many visits, you’ll be expected to provide care by working independently. Be sure you know the standards for all the services you conduct, as this protects both you and your clients.
“Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.” – Robert Heinlein
- Continue your education! Make it a point to learn more about the work you do, from the latest safety tips to any ongoing education offered through your employer or community college. Continued learning will keep you fresh and engaged in your career and prepare you for opportunities of advancement as well.
- Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and make sure to get good sleep at night. The right nutrition and rest helps protect you from getting sick, or (just as dangerous) burnt out. Physical conditioning in this job is important, as work as a CNA requires lifting and bending, especially in in-home care. Make sure you treat your body right with regular exercise and stretching.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou
- Do something positive for you. Find time to enjoy activities that give your mind and body either rest or excitement (or a little bit of both). The care you provide for others doesn’t always end when you complete your day of work as a certified nursing assistant, because you should take care of yourself, too. Making time for yourself gives you the energy and mental resources to go at it for another day. Read more self-care tips here.The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that jobs for certified nursing assistants will grow by 9% through 2028, which is higher than the average for all other occupations. Work as a CNA is a promising career in demand for the foreseeable future, and being a good CNA will benefit you in your future career goals as well.