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To Be or Not to Be; My CNA Story

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CNA, or Certified Nursing Assistant, work is very challenging. It discovered how difficult CNA work really is I decided to take a CNA course at the local college during the summer of 2012. My parents and close friends told me I would make a great CNA and their opinion of the work was it would not be that difficult or arduous. My school counselor recommended that I sign up for the course because she thought I had great potential. I took her advice and registered at Rend Lake College and started classes in July. The class was a breeze and I was having a great deal of fun until last two weeks of class. During the final two weeks of class, I was required to work as a CNA in a local nursing home to satisfy my required clinical hours. During these hours I would take care of multiple residents of the home while being assisted by the on-duty CNAs and being monitored by my instructor. The instructor would critique me on my skills while I completed my tasks. My tasks included feeding, bathing, dressing, and other daunting tasks that the residents could not do themselves. I did not understand at the time, but now I realize that working as a CNA is a demanding career.

Working as a CNA requires much physical labor. CNA work is not a set down job by all means. I was expected to provide care to as many as eight residents during my clinical hours. Many of these residents were totally dependent on me to help them dress, use the restroom, and shift in bed. These tasks were extremely difficult and proved to be strenuous on my back and legs. I was constantly on my feet and moving, and many times I came home from clinicals to find that my feet were sore and swollen. I, with the help of another CNA student, would have to lift a resident from their wheelchair to their bed or commode. Many residents were combative so I had to deal with getting beaten, bit, and spit on. If I would not have been conscious of my surroundings I could have very easily gotten into a difficult situation or caused physical damage to the resident or myself. The philosophy in the career is that I, the CNA, will heal but the resident may not recover so, I always had my physical well being on the line. CNA work is not only physically challenging but it is mentally exacting as well.

The mental aspect of a CNA career is tough. I had to deal with multiple problems that required me to use critical thinking and analytical judgment. I was in charge of eight resident during my shift. This meant that I had to manage my schedule carefully. I had three to four baths to work into my schedule while also making sure that everyone of my residents’ needs were being met. This scheduling was stressful. I also had to suffer the abuse of residents using foul and vulgar language at me and making crude and sexual remarks about my appearance. Observing some of my residents’ health decline also took an effect on me. Taking care of someone for eight hours a day for five days a week and seeing them gradually pass on isn’t something that I could deal with easily. I cared about the residents and doing post-mortem care on them almost always involved my emotions overtaking me.

While CNA class was really fun, I learned a lot about my self during the experience. I learned what job skills I had and what skills I needed to work on and that everyone has different discernment. I took the perceptions of others on a career that I though would be exciting and applied them to my life. In the end I found out that their perceptions of being a CNA were not the same as my perceptions. I deemed that CNA work is very demanding and that the work takes a special person to accomplish and tolerate it. I am happy I took the CNA class because it was a good learning experience for me. I learned that a CNA career is not my affinity. Even though CNA work is not my preferred choice of work, I grew a deep respect for the people that can do this strenuous labor. I further learned that it is a rewarding job if you can deal with the physical and mental stresses that accompany the challenging career as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

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