Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) help patients with health care needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse. CNAs are qualified to work in home health care centers, assisted living facilities, urgent care centers, medical centers, nursing homes, hospitals, and others.
In regards to becoming a CNA, there are various legal requirements as well as skills and characteristics a CNA needs to have to best care for their patients. If you are looking toward becoming a CNA, these are the requirements to focus on.
CNAs must complete a state approved education program located in their state and must pass their state’s competency exam to become certified as a Long Term Aide. In addition, nursing assistants typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training to learn about their specific employer’s policies and procedures. Once the competency exam has been passed, nursing assistants will be placed on the state registry and will be able to work.
- Ability to follow set rules and protocol. In the healthcare industry, closely following protocol greatly reduces the likelihood of making mistakes. For patients with specific care plans, a CNA correctly following that plan puts the patient in the best position to recover.
- Have good time management and organizational skills. A successful CNA should be able to prioritize their daily tasks, file paperwork and reports in a timely manner, and work independently and efficiently while maximizing the output of their time. Doing this allows more work to be done while not compromising the quality that needs to be present.
- Observing the client’s day-to-day physical and mental health, so practicing astute observation skills is essential. By watching patients closely, CNAs are better able to detect changes in the patient and report these to the overseeing doctor or nurse.
- Physical endurance. CNAs spend much of their time on their feet. They should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting or moving patients.
- Being adaptable. Not only is the healthcare system always evolving, but every day brings different encounters and challenges for healthcare professionals. Being able to think quickly on one’s feet and be ready for any situation that comes through the door is important.
- Patience. Controlling your reactions to patient behavior and maintaining a patient demeanor is critical to being a successful CNA. The routine tasks of cleaning, feeding, and bathing patients or residents can be stressful, so maintaining patience allows for better care.
- Empathy and compassion. While some would say these are inherent, they are attributes that can be practiced and improved by constantly and purposefully implementing them. As a nursing assistant you will be dealing with people who are hurting every day. Knowledge is not the only requirement doing your job properly. Many nursing assistants work in nursing homes and urgent care centers, where your care and compassion can have just as much impact as taking care of that person’s physical needs.