5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.

If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.

Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

Popular Right Now

Don't Belittle My Major Just Because You Think Yours Is Harder Or More Important

We're all having a hard time. Let us be stressed.

I get it, as a journalism major, I’m not training to save lives or anything that dire. I’m not in a 400- level biology course and I don’t know the first thing about business calculus. I know STEM majors do NOT have it easy and that when they complain about the workload, they have every reason to.

Truthfully, I was a STEM major for like a second (okay, three months) and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I would like to consider myself fairly intelligent, but my heart isn’t in math and science and experiments. I would probably pass and be fine with my high paying job. But I could never enjoy dedicating my life to a career like that. Some people can and will, and they’ll feel like all the work they put in will pay off and they’ll be happy. I just couldn’t say the same for myself.

I have so much respect for anyone who is willing to put in all the work to one day perform open heart surgery, give flu shots, take blood, fill cavities, build and design buildings and bridges, make planes fly, study water irrigation in third world countries, and run multimillion dollar companies. But future artists, musicians, teachers, and journalists deserve respect too. Someone’s got to do it, and there are people ready and willing to trade a high paying job for enjoyment and excitement.

I truly believe that the things people take seriously are harder for them. When you want to master something and do well in it, it is that much more difficult. There is a certain pressure we put on ourselves to work harder. We may find ourselves having a harder time in the classes required for our major because we want to take in all the information and have it in our back pockets for the rest of our lives.

I am always trying to think like a journalist. My heart and mind enjoy it. I love words and truth and reason. I fully throw myself into that. I research current events and find my stance on all the major things that happen, all while avoiding biases. Like with all things, it isn’t always easy, sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I don’t always say the best and most eloquent thing. It’s little things like that that make me feel like a failure and it stresses me out sometimes.

Me being stressed should be okay, especially since it doesn’t pertain to anyone else, but as soon as I say I’m worried about the future, or that I’m nervous about an exam in earshot of a person with a more respected major, I get ridiculed. Let me complain, you don’t have to listen.

We aren’t designed to excel in everything and glide through life without any hurdles. There are engineering students who can’t write an essay to save their lives. Nursing students might have a hard time with a fine arts class. Your strengths will be someone else’s weaknesses and vice versa.

Don’t think that just because your class is annoying, has people dropping like flies, and your major has been certified Hard™ (by absolutely no one), you have the upper hand in complaining. We’re all having a hard time with something. Don’t belittle others’ majors or their stress.

Cover Image Credit: Lovianna Blackwell

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Cliché Revisited: Respect And The Rules

A surefire guide to pissing off your elders.

To an almost infuriating extent, our society is obsessed with respect. “Respect your elders, respect our leaders, and respect the rules.” With the exception of that bit about leaders, those kinds of principles are still adhered to. And I cannot figure out why. Why should someone get special respect or treatment just because they are old? What kind of blind trust am I supposed to have for the previous generations that I am missing? Goodness, considering the rules they’ve set in place I don’t think I want to be affiliated with many of these people, let alone waste time pretending to respect them.

Every generation has its grand pissing contest with the former. We see it all the time, every time millennials get pinned for another business or business practice going under. “Kids these days!” And then millennials fire back that the former generations just can’t keep up with the growing technological trends. Then all we get to hear about is how not only are they destroying the world and everything once held dear, but they are disrespectful pricks too! No reverence for the people who built the world around them. But I don’t think it is that complicated, really.

Respect is not something you are automatically entitled to when you hit a certain threshold. I was taught that respect is earned, and by that same idea respect is something everyone must earn. Respect is also something that you can lose, or fail to earn. Just because someone is wrinkly does not mean they get to knowingly treat everyone like trash. Key word there: knowingly. My grandma was incredibly rude to a number of people around her by the end of her life. She was also someone who suffered greatly from dementia, among other things. I’m not at all trying to say we throw someone under a bus when they are fighting a battle in their own minds, indeed they should be given our respect and understanding for the hard circumstances they are in.

But don’t expect me to look at every gen x/boomer II who treats their waitress, or gas station attendant, or member of the service industry like a piece of trash like someone who has “payed their time.” What the hell kind of idea is that anyway? Old doesn’t mean dead. Prick doesn’t go away with time, some people are just jerks who want to rub their bad mood off with the world. So no, I will not be respecting my elder without question. Hell, I won’t do anything without question.

Which leads me to my next point: rules. From a young age we are taught to follow the rules because they some kind of special safe guard. When we question the rules we are trouble makers or boat rockers, but why? Nothing in life is certain, other than I guess death, so why should we believe that a rule made by the same lovely generation that brought us abstinence education and the idea that Satan was trying to reach us from Iron Maiden albums.

That doesn’t mean throw every rule out the window, certainly. But stop acting like everything around us is set in stone. The rules our parents made for us were for our safety (and so they could get some sleep), the rules set by schools are mostly so they don’t end up getting sued, and laws can be theoretically changed with the will of the people over a period of time. Why? Because times change, people are different from their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.

That doesn’t always come from a place of hatred for the way the world was run. How arrogant does one have to be to believe every young person in the world is pissing on the bones of their ancestors? There was a time when alcohol was the devil, so it was outlawed. There was a time when sex was a conversational taboo, and oh boy did that fly out the window. Every day there are thousands of people who consume cannabis for an assortment of reasons, and they are trying to get idea of it being the “devil’s lettuce” removed from our society.

Rules weren't made to be broken. That is a silly idea, like saying music was made to be recorded, put in a hole, and forgotten about until someone digs it back up. But rules shouldn't be seen as the code of your favorite deity. They were made by people, people who at some point were just as stupid as you were. They have flaws and certainly their rules do. And the longer those rules enter into a modern era they should be given greater scrutiny by those who will have to decide if they want their children to live under them.

Obviously, respect is an abstract concept. What I've put down here can be dismissed as the mouthy ramblings of a child who never actually learned respect, or as a guy who wants to see the world do better for the ones who will come after him. I'm not asking you to treat everyone like a contestant trying to win the prize of honor, or take your magnifying glass to every rule in the book. But rather to look deeper, into the people that demand our respect and the impact they want to make on those that came after us.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

Related Content

Facebook Comments