Certified Nursing Assistants, CNAs for short, have always played an essential role in the healthcare industry. CNAs work closely with patients, helping them with physical and complex tasks. 

Patients are often scared, vulnerable, intimidated, and overwhelmed by the uncertainties they face/will face while in a hospital setting. As Certified Nursing Assistants work closely with patients, it is vital that they maintain kindness, compassion, respect, and professionalism. 

However, there are times when being a healthcare worker becomes daunting. More often than not, healthcare workers go through compassion fatigue, irritability, discomfort, and guilt. This happens due to various factors, including but not limited to long hours, numerous responsibilities, and interactions with different types of patients, such as irresponsible patients, pitiful patients, and those who may make you feel guilty or uncomfortable. 

At times like this, they struggle to simultaneously balance professionalism, compassion, and kindness. If you are a CNA experiencing similar challenges, do not worry, as this article is here to offer guidance.

This article will examine how CNAs manage care while maintaining professional knowledge and kindness. It will also look at practical tips to help CNAs balance professionalism and compassion. 

The Duties of a CNA 

CNAs, who work under nurses, are supposed to provide high-quality patient care. Being a CNA means you will have a lot of responsibilities. These responsibilities include working long hours, caring for patients, and being empathetic. While it might sound overwhelming, the job is worth it. The skills one gets while working as a CNA will prepare you for a long-term career in the nursing field. 

Without further ado, let’s explore the essential duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant. 

Bath, Dress, and Feed Patients

Certified Nursing assistants help patients with their basic needs. This generally means CNAs must help the patients take baths, dress them up, and feed them. While this is not necessary for all patients, as some might be able to do the same themselves, most patients expect CNAs to be close to them. This is especially the case for elderly residents of nursing homes and individuals recovering from an accident, injuries, or surgeries in a hospital. They find hospital settings overwhelming and prefer CNAs to help them in their vulnerable state. 

Constantly Check the Patient’s Vital Signs 

From blood pressure to temperature, Certified Nursing Assistants are responsible for checking, taking, and recording the patient’s vital signs. These are usually routine tasks because it is the first procedure a patient undergoes when they visit a doctor. This means the CNA is responsible for making a positive first impression on the medical team.

Serve Meals

In line with helping patients with their basic needs, CNAs are expected to serve the patients their meals if they are under hospital or nursing care. The patients and their guardians expect the CNAs to be available whenever possible. 

Make Beds and Keep Rooms Clean

Elderly patients, or those who find it hard to move around for various reasons, are most vulnerable in hospital care. CNAs can help alleviate their anxieties by being compassionate and helping them with their basic needs. In terms of making beds and cleaning rooms, CNAs are expected to clean out bedpans, change soiled sheets, and clean any mess within the space. 

Observe Changes in a Patient’s Behavior

As CNAs work closely with patients, patients are more prone to convey to them how they feel honestly. But at times, patients can be closed off and won’t be honest about their discomforts. Thus, it is the role of a CNA to practice active listening and closely observe the patient’s behavior to prevent any mishaps in the future. Apart from observing the subtleties of the patient’s emotional state, a CNA should also monitor changes in a patient’s physical condition.

Answer Calls for Help

CNAs are also supposed to respond immediately to calls for help. Sometimes patients can go from perfectly fine to a chaotic state in minutes. CNAs are responsible for handling such cases. CNAs must know how to respond and who to contact in an emergency.

Set Up Medical Equipment and Assist With Medical Procedures

Apart from helping patients, CNAs are also expected to help other medical professionals. Because other medical practitioners will be busy with various duties, providing them with basic help, like setting up medical equipment and assisting them in medical procedures, can help alleviate their workload. 

Setting up medical equipment might involve CNAs laying out tools for the next patient exam or moving heavy medical equipment. In some states, CNAs with the proper training can even assist in medical procedures. The most common practice that CNAs are allowed to conduct is phlebotomy.

Whether they take a patient’s blood pressure before the doctor comes in, serve them meals, or simply listen, CNAs significantly improve a patient’s quality of care. 

Remember, when you become a certified nursing assistant, you are helping your community, apart from helping you move up the healthcare workers’ ladder. Are you training to be a CNA? Want to test your skills before taking official exams? You can always take your CNA practice test. Taking practice tests will help you prepare for your exam. 

Cultivating Kindness and Empathy While Maintaining Professional Knowledge

In the medical field, you always find something new to learn about. And when you are a CNA, you have to stay updated regarding new medical procedures and protocols. But how do you stay updated? 

CNAs can enhance their skills by actively participating in conversations with medical professionals, attending workshops, conferences, and online courses.

Carrying notebooks to take notes and consulting other CNAs also contributes to their professional growth. Cultivating kindness involves practicing empathy and active listening, which helps you understand patients’ emotions and actions. These qualities can also positively impact your personal life. 

Managing Care While Maintaining Professional Knowledge and Kindness

As you can see, certified nursing assistants have a lot on their plate. And doing all this can be tiresome and overwhelming. At times like these, CNAs should practice the following: 

  • The first step for a CNA to feel overwhelmed is to take a break.
  • Next, they should focus on self-improvement. 
  • Understand what is overwhelming them and distance themselves (if possible) from the overwhelming situation. 
  • If you feel overwhelmed because you haven’t set proper boundaries, start learning how to set boundaries. 
  • If you are overwhelmed because you don’t know how to manage your time, look for time management strategies that are tailor-made for you. 
  • Consult other CNAs and know how they tackle the situation.
  • Communicate with other healthcare professionals.
  • Be honest and vulnerable about why you feel how you feel, and try to find a solution. 

Implementing the aforementioned points into your daily life will significantly help you physically and mentally. Self-care is crucial for CNAs since their state of mind can influence a patient’s well-being. Thus, the moment you experience discomfort, it is crucial to know what actions to take immediately. Find a solution or a temporary replacement. By doing so, you are helping the patients and yourself. 

Final Thoughts

Being a CNA can be overwhelming. The extended work hours and the emotional baggage one has to handle can be stress-inducing. But, CNAs are actively sought after because they do extraordinary work by helping the community. By actively taking part in discussions and sharing insights, CNAs not only help themselves but also other CNAs as well. 

If you are a CNA finding it hard to balance your profession and mental health simultaneously, we encourage you to implement the provided tips and strategies in your daily practice. That being said, thank you for helping out the community. We appreciate it, and good luck!