A CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, often carries a heavy work load. Your primary job is to assist patients with bathing, eating, dressing and other activities of daily living, and to help them get around, monitor their vital signs and listen to their concerns. An organized and efficient system to speed up your work will help both you and your charges, whether you work in a nursing home, hospital, clinic or in patients’ homes.
The limits of how many patients you can care for at one time vary from state to state, but according to research by the University of California, the number can be as high as 15 or 20 patients for every CNA. Efficient organization is vital to keep everything running smoothly and quickly with so many people to care for at one time. Keep the tools you rely on close to you and in order. Keep your equipment in a carryall and in your pockets so that everything you need, such as thermometer, stethoscope, gloves and sanitary wipes, are always at hand. Before you begin any procedure, double-check that you’ve gathered everything you need. When bathing, for example, make sure you have the soap, shampoo and towels with you before entering the bathroom. Running back and forth to gather supplies is a time-wasting activity.
When your patients understand what you’re doing, they tend to be more cooperative. You need to brush up on your speaking skills to effectively relay information to patients and let them know what you need from them, why you’re doing a certain procedure and what they can expect to happen next. At the same time, sharpen your listening skills so you can hear the patients’ concerns, and target your assistance to meet those needs. Then they won’t be pushing the buzzer for help soon after you leave the room.
Remember Why You’re There
Successful CNAs are compassionate people, who truly care about giving the best care to patients. When the pressure becomes stressful, you can make mistakes and forget to follow up with important tasks that will save you time. You’ll be able to deal with the stress and remain calm when you practice patience and remember why you’re in the job in the first place. Patient caregivers automatically move through their tasks with ease and smoothly transition from one task to another. When you get frustrated and tense, you risk wasting steps, forgetting supplies, and hurrying patients so they slow you down by being uncooperative.
Focus on Priorities
It’s easy to get distracted on a busy hospital floor or in a nursing home, with patients and bosses calling you in every direction. Stopping too long to gossip with a co-worker or getting caught up in straightening out a patient’s room can put you off schedule and slow down your production. Maintain a razor-sharp focus to meet your goals each day and you’ll speed up your work load tremendously. For example, if your goal is to provide three baths, three showers and two walks outside, keep those end results in the forefront of your mind throughout the day, and you’ll increase the odds that you’ll finish all your work in record time.
Work with Team Members
Successful CNAs also are team players who help each other out during a shift. On days when you are really focused and your patients are uncharacteristically cooperative, you’ll find you may have extra time on your hands. Offer to help your coworkers on those days, and when you get backed up they’ll return the favor. You can lighten your load and maintain a steady pace every shift if you collaborate with your team members and pitch in when needed.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."