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.
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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

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To The Parents Who Just Became 'Empty Nesters,' Be Proud Of The Children You Raised Right

Here's to a brand new chapter of your life.

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Dear Empty Nesters,

First of all, congratulations! You must be feeling a variety of emotions as you realize that your house is no longer filled with the commotion of kids. On one hand, there must be this sense of relief; you have successfully survived one of the hardest aspects of parenting: the first 18 years of the child's life. Alternatively, you may also have some feelings of slight sadness as you realize that the children you have nurtured, taught, inspired, bathed, provided for, taken care of, argued with, listened to and watched develop over the years are no longer residing in the same place as you.

There is also probably an unending sense of pride as you can now sit back and watch your offspring take on the challenges of the real world semi-independently. That is your kid out there doing that; how exciting. Finally, there must also be an overwhelming sense of wonderment as you ponder "now what?" as the dynamics of your house change. No matter what you are feeling, always remember to embrace those thoughts and acknowledge them, but try not to ruminate over the ideas that come about. Memories and the emotions that are inflicted by those memories are important to an extent, but when they begin to infringe upon your ability to move forward and create new memories or feel new emotions, then it becomes a problem. Always remain mindful.

Please take some time to re-evaluate what defines your purpose in life. In the past, a large portion of your identity and purpose was to be a mother or father. This still holds true; just because your kids are gone does not mean that you have completed your duty as a parent rather, it is just that the nature of that responsibility has shifted.

Your time commitment is different now too. Gone are the days when you have to drive your kids to extracurriculars, attend school programs, help with homework, deal with school drama, throw birthday parties, coordinate social events and actively teach important life lessons to your kids. Now they are off on their own, coordinating their own schedules that you sometimes are a part of. Thus, take this time that used to be set aside as primarily for your kids for yourself.

For so long, you have relentlessly put your kids' wellbeing over your own; due to that reason, and many others, your kids are eternally grateful (even if they do not always seem like it). All of the selfless sacrifices you have made for your kids did not go unnoticed; however, now is an opportunity for you to prioritize your own wellbeing. Return to a hobby that has made you feel excited or try something entirely new. Implement acts of self-care into your daily routine.

Truly take pride in your occupation, if you have one. If not, perhaps apply for a new job or find a place to begin volunteering. Most importantly, fortify the relationship between you and your partner; after all, the two of you are some of the biggest reasons why your kids have made it this far and are off exploring the capacious world we live in.

Here's to the parents that have recently been deemed "empty nesters." Thank you for your time commitment, genuine thoughtfulness, financial support and unconditional love that you have provided relentlessly while your home was full of the hustle and bustle of raising children. The young adults who are making their way through the world would not be where they are today without you.

I hope you enjoy this next chapter of your life because you definitely deserve to.

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I Want To Be The Teacher That Every Student Loves

We all have the teacher that is universally loved because they do their job well, and I want to be like that.

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For all of those you, who don't know yet, I am an Earth Science Education major. I have brought this up in quite a few articles, (way too many.) Being an education major, I want to eventually be a teacher.

Whenever I am in class and I get a second to daydream, I look at the professor and analyze them. These people are my predecessors to my profession and I am going to be following their shoes. Obviously, I am going to make my own legacy, but I have to learn how to be a teacher from someone (or some people.)

Growing up, I was blessed to have had amazing teachers. When I was at a rather critical point in my life, I was observing my teachers and I took a moment to see what they do for me and society. By taking these few moments in class here and there, I recognized that I wanted to be like them.

My teachers in high school were devoted, caring, intelligent, fun, and humble people. The ones that I gravitated towards so clearly and obviously loved their job, and they wanted all of their students to do well. They wanted to change the world and impact society in a positive way.

That's what I want to do, and the biggest reason why I always make an effort to go to my high school whenever I am home is to see them. They carry a big portion to my roots, and no college professor will ever have the impact on me that my high school teachers did. However, my professors are still people I look up too and admire.

When I am in a class and I am debating whether or not I like the professor, I do it based on three or so things. It's based on whether or not the professor is personable, fun, informed, and understandable. Okay, technically that's four, but fun meshes with all of those things. As for personality traits, they're embedded in these qualities.

First, the professor has to be personable for me to like them. I want to know that my professor isn't a robot and is a real person. They can't be directly looking into space when teaching and seem like they are scripted the entire time. That scares me and makes me think not so positive thoughts towards them.

To me, it shows that they have a purpose, and it shows that they can relatable to at times.

I know that all teachers and professors are people, but learning is a vulnerable thing because you're opening up your mind to accept new information. That's how I look at it, and to me, I kind of have to trust a professor on some level to do that. When a professor opens up and gives their students a snippet of their life, it shows me that I can trust them. I don't know why.

Second, a professor has to be fun. I am not going to be interested in everything I learn about and the biggest example for that is Chemistry. I don't know why, but I don't have the biggest interest in Chemistry and my professor changes the course for me.

My Chemistry Professor made chemistry fun by making jokes. She shows that what feels like this impossible science is possible and it is shown by her making it fun. I like learning it this semester because of her, and that's why I am more receptive to it.

Third, a professor has to be informed. I don't want a professor who doesn't know what they're talking about, and how they're actually specialized in something else other than their subject matter. One semester, I had a math professor for a week (I switched out) who was specialized in economics but was teaching me engineer calculus. If someone sees the connection between the two subjects, please tell me because I don't see it for my life.

Finally, a professor has to be understandable. I am not going to understand the advanced language right away of a subject. If it's General Chemistry I, I am not going to understand what a polyatomic ion on the first day of classes. I need to be taught that.

When a professor breaks down the lingo and shows me their thinking and I can see what their thought process was, it's a good sign. I have a model for how to think about certain problems from the professor, and that goes a long way for me. I need to understand the basics as well, and I like it when a professor goes over them at the beginning of a lecture for a difficult topic.

All of this leads to the type of teacher I want to be like. I want to be able to make rocks exciting for kids and be able to show them the science to the beauty that is this earth. I hope to possess these qualities as a teacher, and then those personality traits as mentioned above.

I can give you a full blown out list of teachers from high school that embody that list. As for professors, this semester I only have one that doesn't fully follow it. That one professor is the one I don't like, but still, I can deal with one bad professor.

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