Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, play important roles in the medical field. While physicians, physician assistants and registered nurses take care of the major decision making for, and evaluations of, patients in their care, CNAs provide that hands-on attention patients need on a very human level. They learn their duties by attending a certification-earning course at a technical or vocational school and have to pass a state exam before they can practice.
CNAs give patients baths, comb their hair, deliver food to them, turn them in bed and deliver messages from family and friends. A thorough understanding of sanitation and cleanliness procedures is vital. Patients are already vulnerable. It's important that CNAs make it a serious objective to adhere to strict sanitation guidelines to ensure that patients aren't subjected to additional germs.
Anyone can wash hair or help someone change clothes. But true CNAs have another important objective: to understand the hearts of their patients. Having a true empathy for patients is a crucial character of successful CNAs (ref 5). Patients may be suffering pain, loneliness and shock. The touch of a gentle, understanding and personable CNA may make an incredible difference in their recovery process.
In addition to taking care of patients' needs, CNAs may also be responsible for clerical duties. They may have to file patients' medical history records, take messages, record vital signs and update patient files. A professional CNA needs to fulfill all of these tasks with diligence and attention to detail.
CNAs work as a part of a whole medical team. As such, they must be able to be team players. The objectives of the whole team must be important to the objectives of the CNA. CNAs attend company meetings to learn the concerns and goals of the team, and they spend genuine effort to make sure those goals are realized. CNAs who take these needs seriously are recognized by their superiors.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Nursing Aides, Orderlies and Attendants Do
- Truckee Meadows Community College: Handbook for CNA Program: 2012-2013
- Eastern Arizona College: Nursing Assistant Course Design, 2011-2012
Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."