Making a Difference as a CNA
To some, the job of a certified nursing assistant (CNA) may seem like a job of ticking off a long list of medical to-dos, such as vital signs and tending to a patient’s various needs. However, when you’re actually in the role, there is so much more to it. Your work as a CNA is patient-focused, so the impact is something you see when you’re face-to-face with someone in need of medical assistance. Even if you don’t have the job yet, it’s important that you understand the many ways you will make a difference in your career as a CNA. Here are just some of the ways you stand to impact the lives of the patients you encounter.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we as humans are emotional beings. While we might experience physical pain or discomfort from an injury or medical condition, there are often other emotions that accompany the experience. As a CNA, you may work with a patient who is frustrated by chronic arthritis or just experienced a freak accident and are now processing what happened with shock, anxiety, and fear. While these underlying emotions your patient is feeling aren’t the most immediate concern, they are real for your patient nonetheless. Chances are, no matter the circumstances your patient is going to need some form of emotional support from. For this reason, each patient you interact with gives you the chance to make the moment an easier, better one. As you’ll see if you stay in the medical industry long enough, emotional support plays a direct role in healing. While the medicine works its magic, you have the opportunity to spread kindness and relieve stress. Even if your patient ends up being more of a closed book, you’d be surprised how much they stand to benefit (and might even open up to) a smile and a kind greeting.
Front Row to Healthcare
The various duties of a CNA require you to interact with patients on a more frequent, intimate level than other members of the medical team. This means that you get to witness the interactions doctors and nurses have with patients, hearing the questions each party asks and being around for the moments after the news is delivered. All of this is more or less a front-row view to healthcare in action — which is not only beneficial to you in helping inform options for career growth, but also beneficial to your patients. Because CNAs are so present, they are often in the position to pay closer attention to what’s going on. They’re often the first medical staff member to notice something, such as a change in a patient’s condition or new symptoms or side effects — sometimes you may even spot things that your patients don’t even notice. Because of this, you could end up reporting changes that prevent a more serious situation. Through this constant vigilance, you stand to be each patient’s strongest advocate. In this regard, simply doing your job well means that you stand to make an important difference in the lives of your patient.
Encouragement When it’s Needed Most
Whether you end up working in a hospital, nursing facility, assisted living facility or private practice, there’s one thing that remains true: your patients need encouragement. Each person who walks through the doors and becomes your patient is doing so because they need help. While it might be easy to diagnose the medical problem they’re experiencing, each of these people has a different mentality about their ability to face the circumstance. In situations of uncertainty, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious or lacks confidence. Elderly patients, in particular, tend to need more reassurance that they can do what is needed to overcome the problem. All of this presents an opportunity for you to be your patient’s cheerleader. Think back to a time where you were experiencing something difficult– what kept you positive and motivated through that moment? Chances are, someone in your life said something that stuck with you and provided comfort in your lowest moment. Plus, a good mental attitude can have a positive effect on the treatment and recovery plan.
As a CNA, no two days are the same, so every shift brings with it the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your patients, whether that ends up being physically, emotionally or mentally. Doing this will ensure that after each workday, you go home feeling accomplished and satisfied for having made a difference in someone else’s life.