Welcome to this insightful article that highlights a day in the life of a Certified Nursing Assistant.
By the end of this article, you will understand how CNAs spend their days working.
As a student enrolled in a CNA course or considering joining this profession, it is important to understand CNA Life every day.
In the article, we will cover the following:
- The Working Environment
- A Day In The Hospital Environment
- A Day In The Nursing Home Environment
- What A Busy Day For A CNA Looks Like
The Working Environment
Until you get your first job assignment as CNA, you will never fully understand the nitty-gritty of patient care.
First, CNAs can work in various places, which are:
- Medical Offices
- Nursing Homes
- Private Homes
Most CNAs find jobs in nursing homes and hospitals.
Experiences in different environments are not the same and might vary depending on the working environment.
For example, in a nursing home, you might find that giving baths and assisting with basic functions will be a constant thing, while in a hospital, checking vitals and moving patients could be the most constant activity.
There is no doubt that CNAs have a challenging job.
Physically they have to lift, turn, help, carry, bend, push and pull throughout the day.
Some patients might be able to move while others are completely unable.
Patients are a great part of a day in the life of a CNA.
The patients require a lot of care, and it doesn’t matter whether it is in a hospital or nursing home.
Some patients can get difficult, testy, and become verbally aggressive.
Most of them cannot help what they say because maybe they are in pain, frustrated, or mentally unstable, but others are fully aware of the verbally abusive things they say to their CNAs but say them anyway.
There are cooperative and uncooperative patients, and sometimes their family members don’t make it easy either.
It is always up to the CNA to ensure that the patient understands what is required and gets ready for the medical procedure.
It is also up to the CNA to ensure that the patient gets all the help they need like basic functions like bathing, moving, preparation for a medical procedure, medication, etc.
Whether the patient is difficult or easy to work with, CNAs must meet all their needs by administering the proper direct care.
Working Alongside Nurses And Doctors
Most CNAs work closely with Registered Nurses and doctors, who might not always be easy to work with.
Some have attitude problems and might frustrate the CNA and not fully appreciate their role in providing healthcare services to patients.
Nurses working with patients can sometimes be frustrating and ask CNAs to do the simplest things they can perfectly do themselves.
At the end of the day, the CNA is very tired from running up and down, fetching things like ice water for the nurse as they attend to the patient.
On the other hand, there are amazing nurses with great respect for CNAs.
Working with them is not only easy, but CNAs get to learn many things and even grow their passion for nursing.
Still, a few of the nurses could use some learning to respect the people working with them.
A Day In The Hospital Environment
In the hospital setting, the CNAs work alongside the nurses and will be mainly responsible for the care of the patients during their stay.
The CNAs will hardly do any medical procedures, but they will be involved in doing the following for their patient:
- Charting information about the patient, such as vitals
- Assisting disabled patients with basic functions such as brushing, eating, using the bathroom, and dressing
- Moving the patient to various parts of the hospital for checkups and medical procedures
- Administering medication
- Conducting assessments
- Collecting required samples for tests from the patient
In short, a day in the hospital environment requires the CNAs to take care of the patient’s needs simply.
Sometimes the duties might even extend to answering phone calls for the patients, ensuring that they eat and drink well, and cleaning up after them.
In some instances, CNAs might provide companionship for the patient and talk with them.
A Day In The Nursing Home Environment
Most certified nursing assistants who have qualified often work in nursing homes.
This environment is very different from the hospitals but could be similar to home care.
Patients who live in a nursing home for an extended period receive care differently from those in the hospitals receiving care while on treatment.
A CNA in a nursing home will begin their day at 7.00 am, which is the time assigned to start providing care.
The nurse then briefs the CNA on the status of each patient before the day begins.
The CNA then serves breakfast to the patients and assists those that are incapable of feeding themselves.
The CNA will then clean up after the breakfast session and help their patients bathe and dress up.
Not all patients are incapable of bathing; some will feed, bathe and dress by themselves.
But, some might also need a little help when it comes to grooming.
After the patients are clean, fed, dressed, and taken their medication, the CNA then escorts them to the nursing home activity area to interact with others until lunch is ready.
After again ensuring the patients feed well and lunch is over, the CNAs then proceed to help the patients with their medication and help them settle down for an afternoon nap.
But first, before the patients settle down for the nap, the CNA must also take note of each patient’s physical state.
The CNA will then ensure the patients’ rooms are cleaned before taking a nap.
As the patients are napping, the CNAs can then take a break.
When the patients wake up, they can relax a little as dinner is being prepared.
Another CNA will relieve the current one and take over the shift by then.
In some nursing homes, CNA’s 12-hour shifts are not surprising, while in others, the CNA hours are shorter.
What A Busy Day For A CNA Looks Like
All days are usually busy days in the life of a CNA.
By the time a day is over, the CNA is emotionally exhausted and experiencing a string of emotions such as anger, grief, relief, gratefulness, disgust, sadness, and even humor.
A few activities contribute to the exhausting day in a long-term care facility.
- Caring for many patients
- Cleaning up urine floods from the floor and several beds countless times
- Changing too many incontinent briefs
- Reach out to respiratory therapy several times for patients who require it
- Given a lot of showers and bed baths
- Emptying too many urinals, catheter bags, and bedpans
- Emptying many colostomy and enterostomy bags
- Collecting lab specimens from patients
- Changing wound dressing
- Watch nice and sweet patients they have been caring for a pass on and have to bag their bodies
- Dealing with patients throwing tantrums and calling them all kinds of unmentionable names
- Getting scrubs peed on or spat on
- Restraining an agitated patient
- Training new CNAs on how everything works in the facility
- Getting nice comments such as, “thank you for taking care of me,” “you are the best,” “you are the nicest caregiver here,” “you are beautiful,” and so on
- Teaching an elderly patient how to use their cell phone and countless other activities leaves the CNA emotionally drained and physically exhausted by the end of the day
It then begins the next day again.
CNAs are truly special in the healthcare industry. We have looked at what a day in the life of a CNA on duty is like.
It is evident that it is not an easy job and requires a lot of dedication.
It comes with its fair share of challenges, just like most jobs, but it is a rewarding career and a great step to becoming an LPN because the years of experience amassed as a CNA are very valuable.
CNA Life: FAQs
How many hours does a part-time CNA work?
Most CNAs working part-time will work for 8 hours. Some of them will take 8-12 hour shifts and an extra day off. Nursing homes and hospitals usually have CNAs working three 12-hour shifts weekly as their typical CNA hours.
Is being a CNA really that bad?
Some people might consider it the worst and most degrading profession, but the truth is that it is a rewarding career. The CNA training you get is well-designed to offer skills for anyone who would love to learn nursing basics and eventually advance their career.
Is being a CNA worth it?
Yes, being a CNA offers you an enriching experience if you have a passion for helping people and making a difference in patients’ lives. CNAs earn a gross salary of $2000/month, which is ideal for those seeking job stability and a chance to advance their medical field career.
Is CNA a stressful job?
Yes, it is because the long hours you have to put in and the hectic nature of the work increases the chances of being stressed. However, when pursuing a career in the medical field and the desire to serve others, you can do this job and actually enjoy it.
What happens on the first day of CNA?
Usually, this is orientation time, and it includes paperwork, a facility tour, training videos, and familiarizing yourself with the employee handbook. Sometimes physicals and drug screens might also be performed. The actual training for tasks only begins after the orientation is complete.
What do CNA shifts look like?
Most CNAs work weekends, but usually have 8-hour shifts that begin from 7.00am-3.00pm, 3.00pm-11.00pm and 11.00pm-7.00am. Although every workplace is different, most employers will strive to maintain stability in the schedules to allow workers to get used to their work hours.
What is the best shift to work as a CNA?
Most CNAs prefer the morning shift, usually between 7.00 am-3.00 pm, because it allows them to have a productive workday and allows them to get home early and enjoy time with loved ones. You also get to go to bed early and get adequate rest.
How many days a week do CNAs work?
Most CNAs work five 8-hour shifts or 12-hour shifts with a day off. However, for those working in institutions like nursing homes and hospitals, most of them work three 12-hour shifts weekly, which means it is 3 days a week.