Tips and Tricks For Becoming A Great CNA

Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, play an integral role in the healthcare system and have many responsibilities, but their main focus is on providing basic patient care. However, there is so much more than that included in the job description!

Let’s dig into the specifics of this important role below.

What Does a CNA Do?

CNAs often serve as a patient’s main caregiver, work hand-in-hand with LPNs, and report directly to the nursing staff.

You may be wondering, what is the difference between a CNA and a Nurse? We break it down below.

CNA vs Nurse

  • CNAs are responsible for basic patient care while Nurses are responsible for the full breadth of patient care
  • CNAs require the shortest amount of schooling (often less than a semester), while the next tier of LPN requires a year of education
  • CNA salaries are lower than nursing salaries for the reasons outlined above
  • CNAs report to Nurses

CNA Responsibilities

The duties of a CNA are wide-ranging. You will find CNAs in a variety of medical facilities such as hospitals, outpatient rehabilitation centers and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

Before we dive into the medical responsibilities, it is important that you know just how big a role communication skills play in the role of CNA.

Because CNAs spend so much time working directly with patients, being able to communicate effectively with them, their loved ones and their treatment team are crucial.

How can you accomplish improving your communication skills? Here are five ways:

1. Learn to read body language

Body language in a patient can help you see when they are in pain, especially when you are helping patients who have a hard time or are unable to speak.

Understanding the body language of your superiors on the treatment team will come in handy in more ways than we can count.

2. Listen with intent

Oftentimes during a conversation, we are waiting for our turn to speak and planning what we are going to say.

From now on, listen intently to the person with whom you are speaking instead of preparing your next statement. Not only will this tip help you at work, but also in life!

3. Over-communicate while remaining concise

When you need to make an important point, make it in a concise manner. Because of tip #2, you know that most people aren’t truly listening and absorbing your words. This means you need to use as few words as possible, whenever possible. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t also drill the point home.

4. Write things down

With endless moving parts, your day is already jam-packed with vital information. Taking notes not only gives the impression that you are carefully listening to people, but the notes are an invaluable resource when you have multiple patients.

5. Consider your audience

The way you speak with your manager is different than the way you speak with a patient. The way you speak with one patient is different than the way you speak with another, depending on their age, gender, ailments, and more. Put simply, learning how to speak effectively to multiple different audiences – and knowing who your audience is at any given moment – is a valuable skill.

Now, let’s review the medical-related CNA responsibilities. They include:

  • Working with medical software (charting, information systems, billing, etc)
  • Helping patients eat (and possibly serving meals to the patients)
  • Helping patients bathe; assisting with dressing and undressing
  • Ensuring bedridden patients are turned and comfortable
  • Providing and emptying bedpans
  • Changing bedding and stocking the patient’s room with necessary supplies
  • Sanitizing all areas in which the patient will be

What Does a CNA Do in a Hospital?

CNAs who work in hospital settings wear many hats and handle the following tasks:

  • Gathering medical history and other details from the patient and caregivers
  • Serving as a pipeline of information to the staff and treatment team
  • Taking vital signs
  • Answering calls from patient rooms
  • Examining patients in some instances (watching for bruises, dressing and observing wounds, etc)
  • Setting up necessary medical equipment for the nurses and doctors
  • Lifting patients in and out of wheelchairs, on and off exam tables, in and out of bed
  • Transporting patients from their rooms to other units

In short, the best CNAs thrive in their positions because they are both excellent communicators and passionate caregivers.

How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Want to become a Certified Nursing Assistant? We have you covered!

Let’s review some frequently asked questions:

How long does it take to become a CNA?

CNAs complete anywhere from four to 12 weeks of schooling. During this time, CNAs in training will learn basic nursing principles and practice hands-on supervised clinical work. They are also required to pass a state exam before they can begin working.

While CNA education requirements vary from state to state, they generally include the need for a high school diploma or GED, completion of around 85 CNA training hours and passing an accredited nursing assistant program/state exam.

How much does a CNA make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018, CNAs earn an average of $28,530 a year or $13.72 per hour.

Where can I find CNA positions?

CNA positions can be found in a number of places. Most notably, CNAs work in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or as a home health aide. It’s important to note that the nature of the job is demanding and like many medical professions, requires 12 hours shifts that sometimes fall on nights and weekends.

You can also obtain a CNA position in a hospital if you are more interested in the medical side of things. For example, CNAs who hold hospital positions are often exposed to multiple units including the ER. You will still be responsible for basic patient care, however, you’ll spend less time with patients in a hospital vs. a long-term care facility meaning your days will be faster paced and less routine.

Take the Next Step In Your CNA Career

Feel like you have everything you need to know about becoming a CNA? Now’s your time to shine!

If you still have additional questions, reach out to us for the answers.


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