I've been working as a CNA for a little over a month now. I love my job and I hate my job. I hate my job for two reasons: I hate having to look my clients in the eye and say, "I know" when they tell me they want to go home. I also hate my job because I hate taking care of a client that I've grown close to and watching them die, right before my eyes. I love my job, for every reason in between, big and small. While, I've only been working as a CNA for almost two months. Here's my list of ten things I've learned.
1. If You Do Not Know Something.....ASK FOR HELP
Yes...You are supposed to remember everything you learn when you take your test. You are supposed to remember how to change that colostomy bag, how to drain that catheter, proper body mechanics...etc, etc. We are humans. We forget things that are constantly drilled into our heads. We aren't perfect. If you do not know how to do something...I should say, remember how to do something, ask for help. The other people in your facility just want you to succeed and they will help you.
2. It's OK to cry
This isn't an easy profession. You are allowed to cry. Cry with the patients family, you can hold them and they will hold you. Cry with your co-workers. Cry. You are human. You need to let it out. I can't tell you how many times I've cried. We are humans, this is OK.
3. Do Not Give Up Easy
Don't give up. You need help, ask for it. You need more help with learning patients routines, ask for help. Don't give up. Don't discourage yourself. A gentlemen once told me that I was being too hard on myself, pushing myself too much. I told him I knew I could do better that it's unlike me to do such a bad job. He looked at me and said, "The only person who thinks that is Mel." He was RIGHT.
4. Dementia Is A Serious Thing
This is one of the hardest diseases to deal with because we don't know how it works. It's a challenge in itself. Yes, you need to keep the patient to reality. But, I have to tell you, that doesn't always work. That patient will become angrier and angrier at you for trying to get them to remember where they are and that they don't need to get up and make breakfast. For you safety, I think, you should play along with them. You can save yourself injury and them. If they wake up tell you before they get ready that they have papers they need to sign and start becoming extremely agitated, then play along. Tell them, "Okay, Mrs. Jones. I will go get them for you and have them back right away." You can help them and help yourself.
5. Do Not Be Afraid Of Helping Your Patients
Yes, we are there to get them dressed, help them to the bathroom, etc, etc. These patients sometimes cannot do it themselves and when you give them wash clothes, they don't know what to do with them. They cannot remember. You need to help them. It's so important. You can't be afraid. Being afraid makes them afraid. They can see it through your body language. Do what you know to do. Talk to them, "Mrs. Jones, do you want to wash your face with the wash cloth?" Offer them the wash cloth. Talk it out. Help them.
6. Most Nurses Were EXACTLY Were You Are
Most nurses I work with were CNAs before becoming nurses. A nurse I work with now was a CNA for 12 years before becoming a nurse 2 years ago (I believe it was two years ago). They understand the hard work you do, they understand needing to just sit down for five minutes. They understand those bathroom breaks, those five cups of coffee. Trust me.
7. Coffee Is Your Best Friend
On 7-3, I cannot tell you how many cups of coffee I drink. Lately, it's only been one. Sometimes I have two or three. On my way home from work, I need coffee in order to keep me awake so I can drive safely home. I hadn't had a cup of coffee in awhile, probably a couple of months, then I started working day shift and that went out the window.
8. Yes, Everything Interesting Happens On 3-11
Yes....they did not lie. Everything interesting happens on 3-11 while us on 7-3 get told about it the next day. Sometimes working day shift sucks, but it's rewarding, I think.
9. The Veteran CNAs Are Some Of The Most Wonderful People
Whether it's 2 years or 23 years, they are there to help you and make things easy for you. They are there to show you the things they know and the tricks they have picked up. They want to make it easy for you. They want to save your back so you don't end up with the same problems they have. Talk to them, get to know them, become friends with them. Sometimes work friends become your best friends.
10. Stay Longer Then A Week
Stay longer then a week because you never know. Trust me, it takes some getting used to. You're thrown around on different floors because they need you to cover someone, when you know your permanent hall. But, it happens and that's okay. They will put you where ever they need you and you gotta work with it because, it happens. That's part of the job. They tell you this is the floor you will be working on permanently but, you need to understand if they need a CNA on another floor, you will be the first to be moved. Stay longer then a week, amazing things happen.