Welcome to C.N.A. world. On this site,
I wish to talk a little bit about the good, the bad, and the ugly
parts of the job of being a Certified Nurse's Assistant. Some of the terms that I use are specific to
this job, and some folks may not be privy to them. I have picked out the ones
that I think may be confusing, and linked them to my definition page. Please feel free
to click on the links (which are colored blue such that you will know they are links). With that said, sit back, grab yourself a cold one, light up a
smoke, (since virtually all CNAs that I know smoke) and (hopefully) enjoy!
Since I know that nobody ever looks at the "bio"sections of most sites, I will keep this short. I am called Thom, and I live in Northern Colorado, and have been a C.N.A. for about 6 years now. I have worked mostly in nursing homes, but have done some hospital work too. I am currently employed with a temp agency a "pool" going to nursing homes that are short of in house help.
As promised, I will touch on some of the better aspects of my current position. For
starters, as a pool person, I am able to make my own schedule, work where I want, and
avoid working where I do not. Of course, this has nothing to do whatsoever with being
an aide, but I thought that I would mention it as it is part of MY job
from this point on, I will refer to myself as an "aide"as it gets old
having to put all those dots in "C.N.A.". Some of the good things about being an aide
in general are the following.
- Without question, the best part of the job (while working in long term care facilities) is that you get to know your residents. It is like you have 20 sets of grandparents. Most of them have interesting stories about their past, which they are happy to share. It is wonderful when you get a chance to sit and talk with them. Just don't you believe it when they tell you that they had to walk five miles to school in waist deep snow...uphill BOTH ways.
- Besides meeting interesting residents, I am able to work with some really great people, and I have had some very good times with them (mostly after work). The people make the place, and I have been lucky to work with some really great folks. I have made some really great friends while working the floor.
- It is also great to know that (even though the residents don't always say it) you have really made a difference in someone's quality of life just by showing up.
- As a side note to the above, getting to know people who grew up in different eras introduces you to things that you may not have otherwise discovered. An example being music. Of course,Lawrence Welk will always suck, however, now I do enjoy artists such as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, etc. If not for this job, these artists would not be in my musical library.
- Another good thing about the job is that occasionally the residents will get
into a fight. We place bets, and sometimes I win a few bucks. Usually, the ones
who fight are annoying anyway, so we are glad that they become the hospital's problem for a short
while. They always come back, though.....Of course, I am kidding. The residents DO
occasionally try to scrap, but we are interested in defusing the situation before
anyone gets hurt.
- From a moral standpoint, this is a good job to have. I am not designing weapons of mass destruction, nor am I a slum lord who turns off the heat in the middle of winter. I can feel good knowing that I am serving my fellow human beings in an honorable
profession. A wise man, Swami Sivananda (1887 - 1963), once said "Service of the sick is service of the Lord. There is no yoga greater than relieving human suffering. If you serve a sick man for half an hour, it is tantamount to meditating for three hours, or repeating the name of the Lord 21,600 times. Do not think that in service there is loss". He has that right. You feel very good knowing that you have served a fellow human being in their time of need. Most of the non-CNAs who I talk to, think I am some kind of saint for doing this job. I am no saint, but I dont tell them that!
- In general it just feels good when you know that you were there for someone in their time of need. When a resident takes very ill, or when the resident passes it is the Aide who is most likely in the room when the family comes. It comforts the family knowing that you are there for them and were there for their loved one.
- Did I mention the great pay? Almost every CNA I know these days are driving a Corvette or one of those Dodge V10 Full-size pick-up trucks, you know, the ones that cost about 50G's? They also own a $450,000 home in the rich neighborhood. Yup, If you want to become a millionaire, just sign up to be a Nurse's Assistant... Ok, so that one is a lie. CNAs get paid just about as much as the folks flipping burgers do, maybe less.
- Another good thing about CNAing is that you are indoors. This is nice especially when the weather is not going your way. Sure is nice to be inside when there is a torrential downpour, or during a blizzard. Of course, the downside is that sometimes the weather is great, and you are stuck inside.
I like to be optimistic about being an aide. However, there are some bad
points about the job. I mentioned above that I belong to the "pool". Besides never
knowing for sure where you are going to work your shift, or IF you are going to work
your shift, other problems also occur. For whatever reasons they have, sometimes "pool"
are treated poorly by the regular staff. We get the crap jobs, get maligned*, and
we are a convenient scapegoat. Of course, these are
inherent problems of being "pool", and are not the woes of most aides. Please find
some of the bad things about the job below.
*Of course, agency people are not always exactly nice either. Some have been known to be lazier & more foul tempered than Ratchet, who gets an honorable mention later on in the page.
- One of the most unpleasant aspects of the job is getting people up in the morning.
It is bad enough to have to drag your own butt out of bed at 0500 (or earlier), but
then you have to force a bunch of other people to get out of bed. When you get to be that
age, (or even my age!) you should not HAVE to get up in the morning. If it were my facility,
I would have get up time be 0900 or later. I would much rather hire more dietary staff
to help pass room trays than drag people out of bed to make 0700 breakfast. UGH!!
- The age old linen struggle also is a drag. How many times has the facility you work
for bought much needed linen JUST before state shows up, only to hide it when they are gone?
Then when you ask them (the laundry super, or the administrator) where it went, they
inform you that you do not need THAT much linen. In some places, it is the same story
with basic supplies, such as gloves, wipes, etc. It is (or should be) scandalous how much
the residents pay, for what they end up getting.
- On that same subject, (Not getting what you're paying for) I submit the age old problem of working short. It is not fair for
the residents to have to put up with poor care, or lengthy waits to get call lights answered because of under-staffing. It is not fair for the staff
to have to pick up the slack that is created because of a person calling in. Many places will not even try to fill a spot on a shift.
Many places put up with frequent call-ins by the same person. This is just wrong. I understand that the nursing homes are a for-profit business, and
calling pool or paying OT to get a regular staff to fill a vacancy costs money, but as the old saying goes,
"If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen"!!
- Please allow me to also touch on the subject of "side work". As if the aide
did not have enough to fill their work day what with the endless call lights and ADLs , the bosses in their
infinite wisdom have decided that we also need to do side work to fill the holes in the
day. Instead of hiring more environmental services people, or laundry folks, WE get
to pass personal laundry and clean the dining rooms. We get to wash wheelchairs,
clean the resident's rooms, etc. If you fail to get this side work done, you are
chastised, and told to stay over and get it done. Mind you, overtime is not allowed.
- The next item can be summed up in two words, "wet foot". This occurs when giving a
shower, washing wheelchairs or worse, your feet get wet with something other than water (see the "Ugly" section). Dishwashers also are
afflicted by this. Wet foot is of course when your foot (shoe, socks, and all) gets
soaked, and you are forced to work the rest of the day wearing clammy socks and shoes.
- One other unpleasant thing about the job is the shift wars. Day people think that nights should get up a truckload of people (because obviously they do nothing all night but sit and read, or watch TV) Evening people hate day people, because they leave lots of junk for them to do, and night people hate everyone. Well, just evenings and the ones who complain on days. It really gets old after a while.
- Charting. Who in this wide World likes to chart? At the end of the day (or night) when attention spans are at zero, you need to check tiny boxes, and remember things like how much Mrs. Smith ate for breakfast and lunch, etc. Usually, you have somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand residents to chart on (maybe an exaggeration). Good luck finding that black pen that will be needed to chart with too. Finding the Holy Grail might just be easier. Charting is one of my least favorite things about the job.
- Bed alarms.
WHEN they work properly, they save many a resident from taking a tumble. WHEN they work that is. Most of the time either they do not work at all, or you are running down the hall every 30 seconds to prevent "Mr. Jones" from crawling out of bed. Never mind that he has been sound asleep and has not so much as moved a finger for several hours. Either way, you know that Ratchet is not going to move her ample derrière from the chair to go check. It is the aide that must drop everything (hopefully not "Mrs. Smith") and run and shut the infernal noise off.
- Did I mention the wonderful smell? Either the home smells like, well, you know, or it smells sickly sweet from the stuff that is sprayed to cover the smell. Either way, itâ€™s not great! Also, I simply adore coming home smelling like...well.... you know.
- The last thing that I can think of that is bad about the job (there is more than
what is listed above, but they fit into the "ugly" section), is getting beat up
for doing your job. This is a minor problem, but it gets old. Here you are, trying
to get someone cleaned up after they have a bout of incontinence, and they kick your
butt. Asking the confused resident if they would rather sit in it than be clean is
no good, because they WOULD rather sit in it. This almost fits into the "ugly" section.
This is the section you all have been waiting for. We have had the good, the bad,
and now comes the ugly. To claim that there is nothing disgusting about this job would
be the same as saying that Bill Clinton has been a faithful husband to Hillary. Below I have listed
for your entertainment a list of things that I find unpleasant about the job.
- Topping my list is Hoppering
Hoppering has got to be the most disgusting thing that I can think of. You are
forced to spray out fecal matter from large, water resistant cloth soaker pads
which causes the water (which is full of feces, mind you) to splash everywhere..
It is most unpleasant.
- Finger painting
is right up there as well. Why cannot people just leave that stuff alone?
- Getting your shoes (or worse) defecated or urinated on is up there too. Fortunately,
this happens rarely (to me, at least). This needs no explanation. UGH!
- Having worked nights, I can tell you that the Tuck and pee
has got to be one of the most annoying things that a resident can do to you. This
is not exactly ugly, but it is annoying as all get out.
- Another thing that I find deplorable is the use of
washcloths for peri care. Who was the brainiac that thought
this one up? I guess it works in theory, you buy a bunch of
washcloths in one color, and a bunch in a different color. One
color is for washing the resident's face or hands, the other is for
peri care. The two shall never cross. It nice to think that
one will never use a face cloth for peri care and visa versa.
In reality however, the face cloths DO get used for peri care, and the
peri care ones DO get used for regular cleaning.
It is true that they
have both been through the wash, but..... I would really like to go
to the administrator's house and "forget" that he/she has toilet paper
and use one of the towels that are hanging in the bathroom to...ehem..
clean myself (and I'm talking about my hands or face).
- The isolation room.
When somebody is in isolation, it means they have a nasty, and communicable disease
that you do not wish to catch. You are required to "gown up", put a mask on (as well as
gloves, of course). When in the hot & stuffy room, you can just imagine all the germs
floating around the room, latching on to your clothing, hair, skin, everything. Nope
the isolation room is no fun at all!
Recently, I got a suggestion to add personalities to the mix.These are the co-workers that you may have encountered in your travels. They don't necessarily fit into the good bad or the ugly categories. If I've left anyone out, let me know! Thanks for the suggestion, Angie!
- AIDE RATCHET. Aide Ratchet thinks that she/he is the charge nurse, and will bark out orders to other staff, and yell at the residents. She/he is lazy and always in a foul mood. What makes them think they are in charge? Why are they always in such a bad mood? For some reason the facility will do nothing about Aide Ratchet, leaving the rest of the staff to wonder what she/he has on the boss.
- BABY TALKER: This aide will speak in condescending tones to the residents. "Did we eat ALL of our chopped-liver today" they will say. You half expect them to add "goochi goochi goo". Please. These people have lived long and fruitful (or maybe not so fruitful) lives. The last thing they need is some 18 year old with green hair and facial piercings talking to them as though they are babies. Ok, maybe not 18, maybe not green hair, but you get the point. Unfortunately, the family members are often guilty of this as well. Remember whom you are talking to. They are after all, old enough to be your grandparents.
- HIDERS: This is the aide prefers to work alone because they don't want you to see what did, but more importantly, what they didn't do. After flying through their rounds, they often hide in a dark corner or a resident's room, which nobody wants to go into (especially those residents who can't talk). You can always tell when you follow a hider, since the residents are unkempt, and so is the room. Hiders are darned hard to find when you need help Hoyering a resident, or other task. You sure see them at quitting time though, first ones out the door, they are!
- HOARDERS: These people seem to have the ability to know when the supply wagon comes in, and stashes away tons of supplies for her/his own use. This leaves the rest of the staff to "search for the Holy Grail" and tear the place apart looking for the basics.
- KNOW -IT-ALL: Know it all's name says it all. He/she is always telling you what you're doing wrong and why. Even when there is no possible way that what you're doing can be wrong, there they are, telling you the error of your ways. Even when you're informing them that the Earth is in fact NOT flat, they still KNOW that it is indeed, flat and refuse to back down. Know-it-alls are everywhere, and this profession is no exception.
- MUNCHERS: These are CNA's who will eat the resident's food, and drink their beverages. These contemptuous folk will wolf down the dessert from the resident's room trays, then tell the residents dessert wasn't being served that day. They may also nibble while passing the afternoon snack, depriving the residents of their grub.
- NURSE RATCHET: You know who you are! There is no reason for some of these nurses to be so evil, yet they persist. Why? Scientists have not yet located the "evil gene", but when they do, you can bet that Ratchet is full of them. Everyone knows who Nurse Ratchet is, there's no need to describe her/him further.
- PATSY: The hardest working CNA of all. He/She is the aide that everyone calls on for help, especially when it's time to use the "Hoyer". This CNA is also called on when someone else "Calls Off", because they can depend on him/her. They just give give give give give. One of these days old Patsy is going to snap, and then, watch out!
- SUCK-UP: The CNA that doesn't do any work, but is quick to rat out her/his coworkers when they take an extra 3 minutes on break. He/she can sure rack up the brownie points. The suck-up always has a kind word and a cheery smile for the charge nurse. Suck-up is often two-faced, and will try to get other aids to divulge info to pass on to the charge nurse.
You might get the idea after reading this site that the bad and ugly FAR outweigh the good about being an Aide. This is simply not the case. Being a C.N.A. is a great joy, and I have learned much from the people I care for. I made this site to amuse my fellow CNA.s and to speak my mind about some of the real problems that face a few of the nursing homes to which I am sent (lack of supplies, lack of staff, shift wars). I would love to hear from you, the visitor and have given you a couple of ways to go about contacting me. I would greatly appreciate if you would sign the guest book, or you may send me an e-mail. I love to read feedback, be it positive or negative, or just to let me know that you found the site! If you have a frequently asked question, such as "How do I become a CNA??" you may want to check this page out. You may find answers to other questions there too.
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